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May 31
Ramdev opposes Anna, says Lokpal can't probe PM
Differences appeared to have cropped up in the civil society over the demand for inclusion of the Prime Minister and higher judiciary in the Lokpal Bill with Baba Ramdev opposing such a move. The yoga guru, to whom the government deputed the topmost tax official to convince him on the steps taken by government against black money, wondered at a press conference in Sehore how top positions like the Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India could be brought under the ambit of Lokpal.

At the same time, he said that he did not want to go into the controversial issue and involve himself in a public debate on that.

Baba Ramdev, who lent support to Anna Hazare in his campaign against corruption when he went on a fast in Jantar Mantar, however, refused to call off his own fast from June 4 till government conceded all his demands.

Reacting to Baba's comments, Arvind Kejriwal, one of the members of the joint committee on drafting the Lokpal Bill, said they would try to convince him about inclusion of the Prime Minister in the Lokpal ambit.

He said probably the yoga guru may not be aware of the full implications of the issue and they would try to convince him why it was necessary.

Kejriwal said if the Prime Minister was kept out of the Lokpal, then there could be ten departments under him which would straight away come out of the anti-corruption watchdog.

Then other ministers can also ask the bribe-givers to pass on all the bribes to the Prime Minister who enjoys immunity. "If the Prime Minister becomes corrupt then nothing can be done about it," he said.

Asked whether those under Hazare's moment will participate in Ramdev's hunger strike in Ram Lila Maidan in Delhi, Kejriwal said they have their own programmes around that time and will see what is to be done.

Baba Ramdev stressed that his agitation was "not against any individual party" but against a system that perpetuates corruption.

"There is no question of postponing the Satyagraha as long as we do not reach at any time bound, credible and decisive point of agreement on all our demands.

"This Satyagragh will continue till the government does not accept all our demands related to corruption, black money and an overhaul of the system," he said while demanding death penalty for the perpetrators of corrution.

He also said that there would be "no damage to national property" during his agitation.

At the same time, he said that a "positive dialogue" is taking place between him and the government and some agreements on certain issues have also been reached.

The yoga guru said that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and CBDT Chairman Sudhir Chandra were in touch with him. "Even today I would like to say that the talks are positive", he said.

His comments came a day after the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met in the national capital to discuss the issue of black money in view of the yoga guru's proposed agitation.

The government, after facing the difficult situation created by Anna Hazare's fast-unto-death last month, is keen to avoid recurrence of such a situation that Ramdev's fast could create.

May 30
Tobacco packs to get more graphic
After a delay of nearly a year, the Health ministry has approved harsher pictorial warnings for cigarettes and tobacco products that will be implemented from December this year. The warnings will carry gory mouth and lung cancer pictures on cigarette packets and tobacco pouches.

The Health ministry issued a notification on Saturday to provide for strong pictorial warnings for both smoking (cigarettes, bidis, cigars etc.) and smokeless or chewing forms of tobacco products.

Submitting to the demand of the tobacco industry, however, the Health ministry said that these graphics will be changed every two years instead of every year.

The civil society welcomed the move, saying the graphics will be effective in controlling tobacco use. "The new warnings are better than the current ones. The effort has to be recognised since it took the government long to come up with the warnings," Bhawna Mukhopadhyay, executive director of Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) said.

May 28
Five colleges to collect higher fee
Special Correspondent

Kochi; The Kerala High Court on Friday permitted the managements of five self-financing medical colleges to collect Rs.3.5 lakh as annual fee from students seeking admission to the MBBS course in their colleges.

Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon issued the order while staying the Fee Regulatory Committee's order fixing a fee ranging from Rs.2.54 lakh to Rs.2.73 lakh for the course in these colleges with which the State government had signed a seat-sharing agreement. The petitions were filed by Kannur Medical College; MES Medical College, Perinthalmanna; Dr. Somervell Memorial CSI Medical College, Karakonam; Assisia Medical College, Kollam; and Travancore Medical College, Kollam.

The court allowed the managements to collect Rs.3.5 lakh as annual fee subject to the condition that the fee would be reimbursed if the court finally found that the fee was excess.

The court observed that prima facie it appeared that the course pursued by the committee was not correct and the fee did not "reconcile with the approved figures of the previous year."

The petitioners contended that the committee had no power or jurisdiction or competence to fix the fee of self-financing colleges. In fact, the right to prescribe the fee was vested with individual managements by virtue of the right under Article 19(1) (g) to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.

The petitioner pointed out that a Division Bench had in 2010 allowed the five self-financing colleges which refused to sign a seat-sharing agreement with the government to collect a fee of Rs.3.5 lakh. The committee had prescribed the present fee ignoring the Division Bench's order. In fact, the petitioners had submitted their proposal for fixing a higher fee after taking into account the monthly cost incurred by them for running the college.

According to various High Court and Supreme Court verdicts, the fee should be adequate enough to meet the proportionate cost of investments made by the managements in the infrastructure and other heads.

May 28
PG medical seat matrix row resolved
The state government and the Karnataka Private Medical and Dental Colleges Association have resolved the row over post-graduate seats in private medical colleges.

A memo filed in the high court by the association and the government gave out details of the new seat matrix.It said 33% of the seats earmarked under the government quota will remain undisturbed, while the remaining 67% seats will be distributed under the management quota. About 17% of management quota seats will be earmarked for Karnataka students and 25% of the seats will be distributed on the basis of the general merit list prepared by Comed-K. The remaining 25% of the management quota seats will be filled by NRI candidates and institutional preferences. Fresh counselling will be conducted for the 67% seats under the management quota.Following the filing of the memo, the high court on Friday disposed of the petition.

Source : DNA India

May 27
Medical Colleges Report Card To Be Announced
PUDUCHERRY: The outcome of a compliance inspection at the Indira Gandhi Government Medical College and Research Institute at Kadirgamam is expected to be known by June 15. A three-member team from the Medical Council of India (MCI) began its inspection on Wednesday and went around the college to check whether the conditions were suitable for admitting the second batch of students.

The assessment team comprises Dr Neena Rungta, team coordinator and Professor of anesthesiology at SMS Medical College in Jaipur, and assessors Dr Dalbir Singh, Professor of forensic medicine, PGI, Chandigarh, and Dr Sivakumar, Professor of Ophthalmology at Bangalore Medical College. While Dr Rungta went around the hospital, the other two assessors observed the college at large.

The inspection team had come to reassess the college after the MCI turned down the approval in its first inspection. The hospital administration, on its part, is keeping its fingers crossed. Only some minor matters were pointed out during the discussion the MCI team had with the college administration. The library drew the MCI team's attention as the scaffolding was yet to be removed, though the work has been completed. The only pending work was to clean up the area and put library materials in place.

The furniture in the non-clinical departments and laboratories were judged as inadequate. The paraclinical departments of social and preventive medicine, microbiology, anatomy and pathology were all accommodated in one big room. More furniture and faculty would be required with each department having a place of its own, the assessors noted.

The team also insisted on a walk-in cooler at the blood bank and microbiology laboratory, which would cost Rs 17 to 18 lakh. The college administration was also advised to fill vacancies of teachers.

If the college gets approval, it will help avoid the complications associated with the Centralised Admission Committee (CENTAC). It will provide 105 seats for students in the Union Territory, 23 seats for Government of India and 22 seats for non-resident Indians (NRIs).

Now, the administration should think of long-term solutions by appointing regular faculty in place of those serving on contract basis. Appointing faculty has not been easy as the salary structure in self-financing colleges is stated to be higher when compared to the government medical college, which has it on a par with JIPMER. The engineering cell and contractors also need to be proactive in completing works assigned to them.

Though funds have been a major constraint, a good amount of it could be mobilised through the NRI quota. Last year, the admissions in NRI quota was not good as only two of the 22 seats were filled. The reason for this was that permission to admit students came late and a high fee of Rs 75 lakh per seat was fixed.

The government should think in terms of making the fee competitive so as to attract more students and use the funds to become self-reliant. It could also approach funding agencies for loans in order to speed things up.

Source : IBN Live

May 26
Prostate Tumor Battle Gets New Boost
Washington. May 24 (ANI): A new research from New Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has shown that a mushroom used in Asia turned out to be completely successful in suppressing prostate tumour development in mice during its early trials.

A compound, (PSP), which is extracted from the 'turkey tail' mushroom, was found to suppress tumour formation in mice, according to an article by Dr Patrick Ling, from the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre-Queensland and Institute for Biomedical Health and Innovation (IHBI).

During the research trial, which was done in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong and Provital Pty Ltd, transgenic mice that developed prostate tumours were fed polysaccharopeptide (PSP), which was extracted from the turkey mushroom, for 20 weeks.

According to the findings, no tumours were found in any of the PSP-fed mice, whereas mice not given the treatment developed prostate tumours.

Dr Ling said that the results could be an important step towards fighting a disease.

Read more: Prostate Tumor Battle Gets New Boost With 'Turkey Tail' Mushroom - Page 2

Source :

May 26
Dangers of endosulfan
They are around 20 years old, but they look like five-year-old toddlers.

There are others who were born healthy, but later were afflicted with an unknown disease which prevented them from going to school. This is the harsh reality in many parts of Kasargod, Uttar and Dakshin Kannada.

The visuals of these victims of Endosulfan, depicting the pain in their eyes, is bound to draw every Bengalurean’s attention to the raging debate over the urgent need for a ban on the deadly pesticide.

A photo exhibition on the consequences of Endosulfan by noted photographer Madhuraj, depicts photographs of a baby born without eyes and devoid of an anal opening, lying on his mother’s lap.

Then there’s the picture of Kavya, a child who suffered a strange problem of not being able to pull in her tongue. She finally died due to this condition in December 2010.

The photographer’s stark and sympathetic depiction of the sad plight of victims of Endosulfan are moving and throw light on the dangers of this deadly pesticide, which is predominantly used in cashew plantations in Kasargod, Udupi and Bhatkal.

It seems to be ruining many lives in these regions. “More than 9,000 victims of Endosulfan have been identified in Kasargod district of Kerala alone, out of which 4,800 patients are bedridden,” said Jagadeesh, convenor, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

He said that when 74 countries all over the world have already banned Endosulfan, the Indian government’s delay in implementing the ban could have fatal implications for many.

“This is a trans-generational pesticide, which even if banned now will make its impact felt for the next few generations. It is a deadly pesticide, there is no doubt of that. Even the origins of Endosulfan can be traced to World War II when it was used as a chemical to kill people,” said Jagadeesh.

He said that the interim ban decreed by the Supreme Court recently is appreciated, but they are demanding an immediate and complete ban as there are so many lives being lost due to this pesticide. Children on wheelchairs or crutches, kids suffering from cerebral palsy, mental retardation, poor vision and various kinds of physical deformities are common in the areas where the aerial pesticide is being used.

“There are more than 150 health studies published in internationally reputed medical journals which have scientifically proved that Endosulfan causes serious health problems. The survivors of Kasargod have already been victimized by 16 major studies and all of them have cited Endosulfan as a problem. So we strongly condemn the decision of the government to harass the victims of Endosulfan with one more study by ICMR, in order to find out whether Endosulfan is really dangerous or not. The number of years the study will take will only delay the justice for thousands of victims,” he added.

A protest and a convention on Endosulfan has been planned in the city on June 5, World Environment Day, demanding an immediate and complete ban on the pesticide with the participation of representatives of the movement in Kasargod and activists like Medha Patkar.

Source : Deccan Chronicle -

May 25
Kesar Sal's teaching faculty under MCI scanner
AHMEDABAD: There may be more trouble in store for Kesar Sal medical college. The Ethics Committee of the Medical Council of India (MCI) recently held a meeting to probe the allegations that some of the college faculty members are running private practices during college hours.

The complainant, a city-based doctor, has accused the teachers of showing more interest in their private practice than in conducting classes. As many as 22 teachers have been named in the complaint, some of whom are renowned medical practitioners of the city.

An MCI source said, "The committee met on May 10, and a decision to scrutinize declaration forms of the college teachers was taken. Action will be initiated against those found guilty of running private practices during college hours. At the time of employment, the teachers pledged to serve full time, which means that they cannot take up private practice during college hours, between 9 am to 5 pm."

The complainant has alleged that several of the college faculty members are pursuing private practice even during college hours.

The dean of the college could also face punitive action if anyone is found guilty since all the authorization for full-timers is done by him. For the faculty members, it will mean that the MCI can cancel their registration for two years. During this period, they shall be barred even from private practice. In the past, MCI penalized 280 college faculties and police complaints were also lodged against them by the council members.

A source in the state education department said, "This problem is not limited to Kesar Sal. Employing doctors who engage in private practice as members of the teaching faculty is a common practice."

Source : Times Of India

May 25
Pandemic Influenza H1N1 In Mexico
Gerardo Chowell and coworkers report the incidence of pandemic influenza H1N1 morbidity and mortality in 32 Mexican states in 2009 and quantify the association between local influenza transmission rates, school cycles, and demographic factors. By using the epidemiological surveillance system of the Mexican Institute for Social Security, which covers about 40% of the Mexican population (107 million individuals), they compiled age- and state-specific rates of incident influenza-like illness and pandemic H1N1 influenza cases by day of symptom onset to analyze the geographic patterns of the dissemination of the flu pandemic across Mexico in 2009.

Using these data as inputs to a mathematical model they show that the age distribution of pandemic influenza morbidity was greater in younger age groups while the risk of severe disease was highest in older age groups. But most importantly, these findings support the effectiveness of early mitigation efforts including mandatory school closures and cancellation of large public gatherings, reinforcing the importance of school cycles in the transmission of pandemic influenza.

Funding: This work was funded by the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health ( LS acknowledges support from the RAPIDD program of the Science and Technology Directorate, Department of Homeland Security, and the Fogarty International Center. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: LS received consulting fees from SDI, a health data warehouse business in Pennsylvania, and received research support from Pfizer for a pneumococcal vaccine study, but this is not relevant to the topic of this paper. MAM has been named on a US government patent for an experimental influenza vaccine as required by Federal requirements.

"Characterizing the Epidemiology of the 2009 Influenza A/H1N1 Pandemic in Mexico"
Chowell G, Echevarría-Zuno S, Viboud C, Simonsen L, Tamerius J, et al. (2011)
PLoS Med 8(5): e1000436. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000436

May 24
Climate Change Suspected
Results from the largest cross-sectional national allergy study ever conducted, to be released later this week, show that allergies have increased in America, but that most of the increase was due to two environmental allergens, ragweed and mold. The study, based on nearly 14 million test results from more than 2 million patient visits, is believed to be the largest to suggest that increased prevalence of the two allergens, which have been associated with climate change, are largely responsible for an increase in allergies in the United States.

The Quest Diagnostics Health Trends™ Report, Allergies Across America™, from Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), evaluates results of ImmunoCAP® specific Immunoglobulin E (IgE) blood testing to 11 common allergens, including common ragweed and mold, two house dust mites, cats and dogs, and five foods. A high IgE sensitization level for a specific allergen tested is highly suggestive of an allergy, although physicians also evaluate symptoms, medical history and other factors in order to clinically diagnose an allergy.

In the study, sensitization rates to common ragweed and mold increased the most of the 11 common allergens evaluated over a four-year period. Sensitization to common ragweed grew 15% nationally while mold grew 12%. By comparison, sensitization to the 11 allergens combined increased 5.8%.

"We believe this is the first large national study to show that the growing prevalence of allergies, suggested by other studies, is largely due to increases in environment-based allergens previously associated with climate change," said Stanley J. Naides, M.D, medical director, immunology, Quest Diagnostics. "Given concerns about a warming climate, additional research is needed to confirm these findings and assess the possible implications for public health."

About 10% to 20% of Americans are sensitive to ragweed. Increased exposure to ragweed has been shown to increase an individual's risk of developing a ragweed allergy or of experiencing more severe allergy symptoms. Research has shown that a warming climate, by promoting longer blooming seasons, may increase both the abundance of certain environmental allergens, including ragweed, in the environment and length of the year during which people are exposed. A study published in March 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined that the ragweed season was nearly a month longer in 2009 than it was in 1995 in northern areas of North America, possibly as a result of climate change. Mold, as a precipitation-affected aeroallergen, may also increase in prevalence with a warmer climate.

The Quest Diagnostics study also ranked the 30 most populous metropolitan areas ("cities ") in the United States for IgE sensitization to ragweed. In the "30 Worst Big Cities for Ragweed" ranking, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Riverside-San Bernardino in California, and Dallas showed the highest rates of ragweed sensitization, while Miami, San Francisco, Portland, Tampa, and San Diego showed the lowest. Those cities at the high end of the ranking showing sensitization levels nearly three times higher than those at the low end.

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On a regional basis, ragweed sensitization was highest in the Southwest, Great Lakes, and Mountain and Plains States. The investigators theorized that the differences in ragweed sensitization regionally and in the most populous cities may in part be due to longer and more intense ragweed pollen seasons, but they also underscored that the reasons behind these difference are unclear and deserve additional study.

"Considering that the ragweed season traditionally begins in August, Americans suffering from ragweed allergies should expect a very long summer," said Dr. Naides. "These individuals as well as those with other allergies or asthma should take proactive measures to reduce their exposure to ragweed over the next several months."

Methodology of the Quest Diagnostics Health Trends Report Allergies Across America

The Allergies Across America study is broadly representative of the overall population of patients seeking medical care for allergy-like symptoms from healthcare professionals in the U.S. It includes de-identified test results of patients from infancy to 70 years of age living in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. The study did not track individual patients longitudinally

The study was based on de-identified results of testing in Quest Diagnostics clinical laboratories using the ImmunoCAP® specific IgE blood test, the "gold standard" of allergy blood tests. IgE is an antibody in blood produced by the body's immune system when an allergen is present. A patient visit refers to any instance where an individual patient was tested at least once for one or more of the 11 allergens by Quest Diagnostics over the four-year period examined by the study.

About Quest Diagnostics Health Trends Reports

Quest Diagnostics Health Trends Reports identify and track disease and wellness benchmarks. Based on analyses of de-identified test results from the Quest Diagnostics national database - consisting of more than 1.5 billion patient encounters since January 2000 - past reports have focused on chronic kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, H1N1 (2009) Influenza A, and rotavirus.

Quest Diagnostics

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