Health Ministry Current Affairs

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Health Ministry to roll out measles-rubella vaccine

The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare will roll out measles-rubella (MR) vaccine in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) in February 2017.

In addition, Pneumococcal conjugate (pneumococcal pneumonia) vaccine will also become a part of the UIP basket in three other states from March 2017.

Key Facts
  • The MR vaccine will be introduced in five states and Union territories viz. Goa, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
  • The UIP basket already has ten vaccines of which measles is one, once MR vaccine is introduced the present monovalent measles will be discontinued.
  • This vaccine will be introduced three years after the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) r recommended the introduction of the MR vaccine in the UIP.
  • The Pneumococcal conjugate (pneumococcal pneumonia) vaccine will be introduced in Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Measles-rubella (MR): The disease commonly known as German Measles (or three-day measles) and is symptomatically similar to measles. It can have devastating consequences if a pregnant mother is infected with it and the foetus may be born with incurable congenital anomalies. Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain. The congenital rubella infection is believed to affect approximately 25,000 children born in India every year.

Universal Immunization Programme: It is a free vaccination program launched by the Union Government in 1985 against vaccine preventable diseases. It is currently one of the key areas under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) since 2005. The program consists of vaccination for 10 diseases- Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Poliomyelitis, measles, Hepatitis B, Diarrhoea, Japanese Encephalitis and Pneumonia.


DTAB suggests one-time licensing for drugs

The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) recently recommended one-time licensing for manufacture and sales of drugs.

If the recommendation is approved it will change present of the renewal of licences for each formulation which rests with state regulators and takes around three years. However, the new rule will have a condition that there be at least one annual inspection and in cases where risk is high.

  • Separate rules for manufacturing, import, sale and distribution of cosmetics. It has suggested the European Union’s model.
  • Making of influenza drugs Oseltamivir and Zanamavir must be made available widely at all pharmacies, by putting it in the Schedule H1 list.
  • These two drugs at present have been treated as Schedule X drugs and available at select pharmacies. Retain the four-year approval threshold for ‘new drugs’.
  • If the definition of a new drug is extended to 10 years, then innovation will take a back seat and wanting the four-year period to be retained.

If these recommendations are approved it will help in ‘ease of doing business’ and give fillip to domestic pharmaceutical sector under Union Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative at a time when the country is slipping in the competitiveness index. It will also give a boost to pharmaceutical industry and give comfort to our customers.

Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB): It is the highest statutory decision-making body under the Union Health ministry on technical matters. It is constituted as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.


Union Government to launch Mission Parivar Vikas for improved family planning services

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is going to launch Mission Parivar Vikas for improved family planning services in 145 High Focus districts in seven states.

The objective of mission is to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.

Key features of Mission Parivar Vikas

  • These districts are located in the seven high focus states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam.
  • They are having the highest total fertility rates and constitute 44% of the country’s population.
  • They also have a substantial impact on maternal and child health indicators. As about 25 to 30% of maternal deaths and 50% of infant deaths occur in these districts.
  • The key strategic focus of this initiative will be on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, dovetailing with new promotional schemes.
  • It will also ensure building capacity (service providers), commodity security, creating an enabling environment along with close monitoring and implementation.