Health Current Affairs

Government to launch separate drug controller for traditional medicines

On 6th November 2014, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced that government has decided to set up a separate Central drug controller for traditional medicines on the lines of that for the allopathy medicines to ensure quality production standards.

He made this announcement after inaugurating the four-day 6th Arogya Expo organised by the Ministry in collaboration with the World Ayurveda Congress in New Delhi.

Why there is need for separate drug controller for traditional medicines?

  • India’s experience and strength in the traditional medicine has not yet translated into market shares in the global traditional market.
  • The traditional medicines global worldwide market is estimated at about $100 billion, but India’s share is negligible because quality standards are not maintained to international specifications.
  • Thus it can be said that India being experienced in the field of traditional medicine has not trapped it potential.
  • India’s neighbour China has captured huge share of the traditional medicines world market whereas India’s presence is considered as non-existent.
  • Institutionalisation of a regulatory authority for traditional medicine backed up by Central and State laboratories will ensure that traditional and indigenous medicines get their pride of place in mainstream healthcare world-wide.

Current drug controller for traditional medicines

  • Presently, Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) or traditional medicinal products are being governed under the Drug and Cosmetic Act supervised by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
  • But DCGI is short-staffed and is not able to do justice to the Indian traditional medicine system compared to the growing allopathy sector.

Implications of this decision

  • It will help to regulate traditional medicines in terms of international standards.
  • Thus, focus on building up a brand value for Ayurvedic drugs manufactured in the country at international market.
  • It will benefit rural India where people largely rely on local herbal doctors.
  • It will further add traditional medicines in export basket of country.
  • Through National AYUSH Mission, the government will focus on building up brand value for Ayurvedic drugs.

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World Mental Day observed on October 10

World Health Organisation every year observes October 10 as the World Mental Health Day. The Day aims to make people sensitive to issues related to mental health and also become more aware of the mental health issues around the world.
It marks a day to channelize efforts in the direction to support mental health. The day involves people and stakeholders to express their concerns, views and approaches to deal with issues related to mental health. The experts are required to share their work and any breakthroughs which they have achieved.

  • The theme for 2014 is “Living with schizophrenia”. The aim is to help people build and lead a normal life with schizophrenia. It seeks to introduce to the sufferers newer vistas for life and growth.

According to WHO, 450 million people around the world have mental illness. Even more alarming is the fact that the civil society still considers mental illness as a stigma which makes it difficult for patients to talk about their problem openly and seeking a medical advice. In many cases the effect of the stigma is worse than the illness itself. Another aim of the day is to transform the attitudes of general public towards mental health and issues.
In India, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, has flagged the day as the National Mental Health Day to be observed every year. He also launched India’s first policy on Mental Health. The policy aims to provide affordable and quality treatment to mentally ill patients especially from the weaker sections of the society. Training modules for general physicians were launched. The policy will have a pro-poor vision as the latter are always at the receiving end of the poor policy and implementation.

The World Health Organization has predicted that about 20 per cent of India’s population would suffer from some form of mental illness by 2020 and the country only has about 3,500 psychiatrists. Therefore, the government is confronted with the problem of lowering this gap significantly over the next decade

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