Year-ender 2019: Round-up of events in TN health sector

Chennai: 2019 has been a rollercoaster ride in Tamilnadu health sector. The year saw many ups and downs. Here are the list of events that took place.

New medical colleges

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare gave nod to construct three new medical institutions in Krishnagiri, Nagapattinam and Tiruvallur. It will be an addition to the six institutions which also received approval this year in one go.

The Centre has given its sanction for Rs 2,925 crore estimate for the initiatives and of it, it has accorded approval for release of Rs 1,755 crore, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said adding the Tamilnadu government will pitch in with Rs 1,170 crore.

King’s to fly down to TN

In August, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Health Minister C Vijayabaskar visited London to interact with investors and officials in UK. During the trip, an MoU seeking establishment of a branch of King’s College London in Tamilnadu was signed. Another MoU was with the International Skills Development Corporation and the third was a Statement of Intent, signed with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to control communicable diseases like dengue and malaria.

Doctors’ strike

As in the past, medicos from Tamilnadu staged protest for various reasons. The list of demands include pay on par with Central government doctors, non-reduction of the number of government doctors and 50 per cent reservation seats for post-graduation seats. In October, over 16,000 medicos held protests across several parts of Tamilnadu. Continuous talks were held with the State Health Minister and Chief Minister with regards to meeting the demands.

NEET fiasco

While NEET has been a subject of criticism far and wide, it gained huge momentum following the death of medical aspirant Anitha in 2017. In 2019, the CB-CID exposed a huge NEET impersonation scam. The first accused was a student named K V Udit Surya, whose father, Dr Venkatesan, who works at Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital, arranged a person to write the NEET exam on behalf of his son. Following which, a few more students were found to have used imposters. A case at the Madras High Court on the scam is going on. The justices also felt the scam could have happened all over India.

Dengue, diphtheria

Every monsoon, the State government gets ready to battle dengue. Till November 2019, data from National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme shows that 6,577 have been affected with the fever and five have been declared dead.

Additionally, the State witnessed rise in diphtheria cases. Fifty-cases were reported besides five deaths.
“We have identified that the immunisation is not being regularly done in private schools in Tamilnadu. The government conducts immunisation drive in the institutions that come under its purview,” DPH Director Dr Kolandaiswamy said.

Slump in health index

Tamilnadu slipping down to ninth rank from third in the NITI Aayog’s Health Index raised serious concern and experts opine that the State should take it as a ‘wake up call’ and improve the services offered. However, Health Minister Vijayabaskar claimed that the data is incorrect. “Annually, around 9.5 lakh deliveries take place in Tamilnadu and in 99.9 per cent cases we have been maintaining institutional deliveries whereas NITI Aayog report states 11 lakh deliveries in which 80 per cent takes place place in hospitals and 20 per cent at homes,” he said.

Close up of inhaling from an electronic cigarette.

Smoking cessation

In 2019, Rajya Sabha passed the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan stated that there is evidence now that e-cigarettes are harmful and can become a huge threat than tobacco in the future. “The government passed the bill in a bid to nip the problem in the bud,” he said.

Bhavani Prabhakar