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HEALTH

Pharma industry rues govt failure to provide relief
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The small scale pharma industry has rued the failure of the Government of India to provide them relief in the form of increase in abatement.

Though the Economic Advisory Council, headed by Dr C Rangarajan, had recommended an increase in abatement (calculating excise duty) from 40 per cent to 60 per cent, the abatement increase offered to the SSI in pharma sector is only 42.5 per cent (to cater for increase of 6 per cent Trade Margin after MRP Inclusive of Taxes regime effective 2nd October 2006). This even as the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had himself accepted the recommendations of the EAC, and forwarded the same to the Finance Ministry for implementation. However, the Finance Ministry has turned down the proposal to change the abatement for the pharma sector on the pretext that two rates of abatement cannot be prevalent for pharma and 103 other commodities.

In a letter to the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the Confederation of Indian Pharma Industry (CIPI), has rued that the marginal increase in abatement would not bring any relief to the small scale pharma industry, especially those located in states under the MRP tax regime ( all states except Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttaranchal), or the common man as it would fail to curb the rising prices of medicines. CIPI had demanded an increase in abatement to 80 per cent. The confederation also pointed out that even the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) has calculated 340 per cent trade margins for SSI.

CIPI has said that the change in modality to the MRP-based excise regime increased the excise-burden and relative disparity manifold causing a massive exodus of pharma industry to the states enjoying a tax holiday (Himachal, Uttaranchal and J&K) to evade the burden. About 90 per cent of contract manufacturing takes place in tax exempt states today. “Contrary to the objectives of MRP-based excise, not only has it caused revenue loss but prices of medicines produced in exempt states are double as compared to non-exempt states, as per report of NIPER. Hence, the twin objectives of MRP-based excise stand totally defeated,” CIPI has pleaded to the UPA Chairperson.

MRP-based excise certainly became a deterrent for high trade margins in non tax exempt states, which oppressed their operations but units in exempt states see it as an opportunity to increase MRPs (lacking pressure of excise on MRP) because it is used as a selling point to woo the traders. The net result is that traders prefer goods available excise free, which are cheaper but bear higher MRPs. In the process, SSI Units in non exempt states are rendered uncompetitive and face closure. CIPI has said that with the government’s failure to increase the abatement, the production in the non exempt states will not be restored, rather it will continue to migrate to the three tax exempt states.

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HAIs may hit medical tourism
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The hospital-acquired-infections (HAIs) have been emerging as a major challenge globally. India is having a great potential for medical tourism but the rapidly increasing rate of the HAIs would adversely affect it.

Dr Yahuda Carmeli, chief of the epidemiology division, Tel Aviv Medical Centre, Tel Aviv, Israel, who was in the city, told The Tribune that the infection had been adding to the mortality rate among patients post- surgery. The frequency of infection is about 5-10 per cent in most developed nations while in India, roughly, 25 per cent patients admitted to hospital acquires the HAIs. The HAIs are more difficult to treat that community-related infections, he reveals.

He clamed that to prepare annual report on the HAIs was mandatory for each hospitals and healthcare institution so that the patients could choose the best healthcare institution for their treatment in case of hospitalisation. India lacks the system thus exposing the patients to the infection at large.

He disclosed that urinary tract infections and pneumonias accounted for almost 60 per cent of the nosocomial infections. Surgical wound infections, which are almost always nosocomial, accounted for another 20 per cent.

India has a few specialists and super specialities to diagnose the infection and then treat the patients. There is a desperate need of awareness about the HAIs at the grassroots level to provide better healthcare to the public, he feels. Doctors generally have been prescribing antibiotics to the affected patients without diagnosing the specific infection thus making the problem more peculiar, he added.

The patients acquire HAIs from people, objects, food, water and air in the hospital. The length of hospital stay is also another risk factor for these infections. The HAIs are more common in neonates, infants and the elderly, he said.

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Epilepsy symposium brings science, culture closer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
To foster strong academic and social relationships between neuroscientists of this region was stressed at the first international symposium on “Epilepsy and Indo-Pak Neuroscience Colloquium” organised by the Department of Neurology, PGI, in collaboration with Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, at the PGI, here.

The neurologists and neurosurgeons from India, Pakistan, USA, UK and other SAARC countries shared their views and experiences on various fileds of neurology sciences. In addition to the scientific programme, an exciting social programme, a mélange of rich and vibrant cultures of the subcontinent was also discussed. Adding colours to the event, was city-based artist Vinod Mehtra, who painted on various themes to mark the symposium.

Epilepsy as a consequence of an infection was the main issue taken up for discussion. According to the neurologists, a seizure complication of infection can consist of a single seizure or can go on to become a chronic epilepsy.

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Leakage in PGI continues

Chandigarh, February 12
Operation theatres (OTs) in the PGI functioned normally even though the roofs of changing rooms of doctors and a corridor, next to the OTs, on the fifth floor of the Nehru Block of the PGI and passage in front of the emergency OT continued to leak due to the heavy downpour on the third consecutive day today.

The children wards on the fifth floor of the Advanced Paediatric Centre, PGI, were also affected.

A PGI spokesperson, however, claimed that surgeries in the OTs were performed as usual. As many as 59 surgeries were conducted till 4 pm. — TNS

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Bhagwant Mann cheers up patients
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 12
Well-known comedian Bhagwant Mann regaled the packed auditorium at Fortis Hospital at a special Friends of Fortis programme held for the cardiac patients here today.

Bhagwant Mann, who had volunteered to spread laughter among the cardiac patients, said the easiest way to beat the stress was to laugh a lot. "You will find that most illnesses and problems will stay away from you if you are always happy and cheerful," he advised. For over an hour, Bhagwant Mann made the audience forget their worries and pains as he brought a smile on their faces and laughter on their lips.

Interestingly, Bhagwant Mann interspersed his jokes with some serious messages — on how you should respect your elders and how you should build up your confidence. Dr T S Mahant, Executive Director-Cardio-thoracic and Vascular Surgery, Fortis, said cardiac surgeries were a team effort and, therefore, he would like to share the compliments from the Friends of Fortis with the entire team.

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Rain hits polio drive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
The continuous rain accompanied by strong winds played a spoilsport with the polio eradication campaign launched by the UT Health Department. The department was unable to set up any booth for administering the vaccine.

Parents were seen roaming in search of booths in various sectors of the city.

As a result, the department has switched over to a door-to-door immunisation campaign because of the heavy downpour since yesterday.

A press note issued by the UT Health Department stated that 78,694 children of 0 to 5 years were given the vaccine on the first day of the drive. Today 2,100 personnel from different departments, including health, education, social welfare and NGOs participated in the drive. The door-to-door activity would continue on Monday and Tuesday. 

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Incessant rain takes toll on PHL
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
The incessant downpour marred another’s big tournament Premier Hockey League (PHL) scheduled to kick off today.

The continuous rain forced the organisers to cancel the inaugural celebrations of the second leg of third PHL at Hockey Stadium, Sports Complex, Sector 42, here. The opening match between the home team Chandigarh Dynamos and Sher-e-Jalandhar, which was scheduled to start at 7 p m today, has been postponed.

“As it was difficult to hold match in such heavy rain so we have to take decision of postponing the match. The next date will be announced soon,” said Mr Shakeel Quereshi, Technical Tournament Director of PHL.

Despite heavy rain, over 100 hockey buffs turned up at the venue.

Talking to TNS, Bhawna and Princy said, “Many a time we have seen hockey and football matches being played in the rain. But here the organisers have postponed the match which is 
disappointing.”

For Seema and Rinku, the Sector 42 residents, who came to meet Punjabi pop singer Harbhajan Mann and Bollywood actor Jimmy Shergill, were also disappointed a lot as both the celebrities could not reach the venue due to bad weather.

“We read in the newspapers about the presence of Jimmy and Harbhajan during today’s match. So we came here to meet them. But the rain spoiled the whole programme as both of them have cancelled their visit”, said the duo.

Not only organisers and hockey buffs, the players were also disappointed.

Chandigarh Dynamos’ captain Rajpal Singh said, “No doubt, playing opening match is always an extra exciting experience. But postponement of today’s match could not decrease the enthusiasm of the team. We are ready to take on Sher-e-Jalandhar and when the time will come the spirits and passion will be the same”.

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We will win hockey title, says Rajpal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Last year’s runners up, Chandigarh Dynamos, may have not performed up to its calibre in the first leg of the ongoing third Premier Hockey League but team captain Rajpal Singh is still confident of lifting the title.

The captain said, “Actually our key players, including Deepak Thakur, S.S Gill, Jaswinder Singh, were not available in the early matches of the first leg due to injuries. When they returned in the last two matches, we performed well and won them. So now I am hopeful of doing well in the forthcoming matches of the second leg and win the title”.

The team has also been missing the services of drag flicker Sandeep Singh, who was injured during a shootout incident last year, added the ace forward Rajpal.

Revealing his team’s strategy during the league, Rajpal said, “We will play a through-and-through attacking game. In almost all our earlier matches, opposition goalkeepers have been adjudged the man-of-the match. This is one disturbing factor, which we will certainly check.”

Talking about the presence of foreign players in the tournament, Rajpal said it was highly motivating for the local players, especially players on the fringe, to play against the best in the world.

“When we play against or alongside foreign players, we learn a lot. Theirs is a fast-paced game, which we are also trying to follow. However, let me clarify, our own style (Asian) of playing is also very good. On the match day, it is the planning and coordination that matters,” he said.

He also said a lot of cultural exchange takes place during the tournament between players of various nationalities.

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Panjab varsity baseball team runner-up

Chandigarh, February 12
The Panjab University (PU) women baseball team secured second position in the five-day All India Inter University Baseball Tournament, which concluded on February 9 at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar.

In the tournament, the hosts GNDU emerged winner while Delhi University (DU) had to content with third position.

In the men section, PU got third position. Again GNDU were topper whereas DU team remained second. — TNS

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Bihar Act extended

Chandigarh, February 12
The Ministry of Home Affairs has extended the Bihar Protection of Interests of Depositors (In Financial Establishments) Act, 2002, to the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

The extension of the Act to the UT will enable the local administration to attach the property of the financial establishments in case of default of payment.

The Chandigarh Administration will appoint an officer not below the

rank of Collector as the competent authority to exercise the control over the moneys and properties attached by the government.

The competent authority will take such actions as are necessary for taking physical possession of all moneys and assets of the financial establishments expeditiously and it will have all powers which are necessary for the purpose.

The competent authority may also make an application to any designated court set up for the purpose. — TNS

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Action sought

Chandigarh, February 12
The Citizens' Welfare Association, Sector 22-C, here today demanded strict action against certain showrooms in the sector for storing cement and waste paper.

In a statement, the association alleged that the residents of house nos(2501 to 2532) were facing a lot of problems on account of loading and unloading of cement and waste paper as it led to pollution. — TNS

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