Pvt firm drags Centre to high court on supply of condoms

Accredited Social Health ActivistsA condom manufacturer has dragged the Centre to Delhi High Court, expressing apprehension that it may be deprived of a contract for supply of over 100 million pieces of male contraceptives despite edging out others in the tender process.

Pending the matter in which the private company cited the government’s previous year’s decision to involve a PSU by ignoring its “successful bid” to supply condoms, the high court in its interim order directed the Centre not to cancel the tender process for supply of male contraceptives which are to be distributed by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

It said the interim order would not come in the way of awarding of tender.
The court was hearing a petition filed by private company MHL Healthcare Ltd (MHL) expressing apprehension that like last year, the Centre may cancel the entire process.

“This is petition filed by the petitioner on the apprehension that each time a tender is floated and he is L1, subsequently the tender is cancelled. This time also apprehending that the tender will be cancelled, he is before the court. Till the next date of hearing of the matter no cancellation order should be passed,”  a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said.

It also asked the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to file its counter affidavit on the plea within two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on July 14.
The bench issued notice to HLL Lifecare Ltd (a government of India undertaking) which was awarded the order by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for supply of condoms after the tender was cancelled last year.

Appearing for MHL, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan said the last time also the government had awarded tender for supply of condoms to a state-run agency at a “higher price” than what the private company had offered.
MHL said that last time also after it became the “top bidder” for the supply of contraceptives, the ministry had cancelled the tender and had placed an order with HLL Lifecare Ltd for 200 million pieces of condoms at a price of Rs 180.77 per 100 pieces.
The bench, however, said that it will hear the matter on merit after all respondents file their counter affidavits on the petition.
Earlier, on November 7, last year, Centre had informed the court that it has scrapped its tender for supply of male contraceptives and fresh process has been initiated.

Children urge PM to champion their cause

Over 25,000 children have sent postcards to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to keep issues that concern them in focus at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, NGO World Vision India said.

The over 25,000 postcards from children across the country represent the voices of over 400 million children in India, so that issues that concern them should be made part of the 2015 Millenium Development Goals (MDG), the NGO said.

The Prime Minister will participate in the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly and the special Sep 25 event to follow it on MDGs.

“Despite remarkable progress during the last few years after the launch of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), we still lag behind in meeting the MDG targets for improving child and maternal health by 2015,” said World Vision India CEO Jayakumar Christian.

“Children in India still lack life-saving vaccines, protection, live in fragile contexts, face inequality and discrimination and millions continue to die from largely preventable causes,” Christian said.

(Source: IANS)

NRHM scam: Court asks UP to explain delay

Allahabad High Court on Thursday summoned the Uttar Pradesh Principal Health Secretary to explain the delay in allowing the CBI to prosecute officials accused in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam.

The Lucknow bench of the court asked Principal Secretary, Health, Sanjay Agarwal to appear before it by 2 pm and explain the delay.

The court also rapped the CBI for verbally informing it about the investigation and gave the agency 48 hours to file a written affidavit on the progress of probe.

It also told the agency to wrap up the probe in 20 days.

The CBI had sent a request letter to the Uttar Pradesh government on May 23 seeking prosecution of 22 doctors and IAS officer Pradeep Shukla in the scam.

But the files since then have been shuttling between the health and the law department.

Proximity of the accused to political masters was the stumbling block, official sources said.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had on Wednesday said that “some innocent people have been charged in the scam”.

This had led to the speculation that the state government was unwilling to give CBI the green signal.

PM: A new National Urban Health Mission

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the government is proposing a new National Urban Health Mission to focus on the health challenges of people in towns and cities while it would continue the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for another five years.

 He was addressing the third convocation of the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) here, Singh said: “Our government has decided to continue the National Rural Health Mission for the next five years. We are now proposing a new National Urban Health Mission in order to focus on the health challenges in our towns and our cities.”

National Urban Health Mission will be a new programe which will address the grievances of people living in cities. It will based on the idea of National Rural Health Mission.

Referring to NRHM introduced seven years back with the challenges of high mortality rates of infants, pregnant women and where two thirds of health expenditure is met by people, Singh expressed satisfaction that “the scheme has shown that health indicators can be improved with concerted focus on public health systems at primary and secondary levels”.

“Infant and maternal mortality rates have fallen and institutional deliveries have increased. But much more needs to be done and there is a large unfinished agenda of providing affordable healthcare for all our people,” he said.

According to the prime minister, the challenge for policy makers in India is ensuring the proper development of various segments in the healthcare system.

He said in India both public and private sector is present in the health sector and he is hopeful of launching a unified National Health Mission.

Citing the shortage of doctors and para medical personnel in the country, he said the shortfall is acute in rural and more particularly in north, central and eastern regions of India.

“The centre and the state governments, particularly state governments of the under-served regions, need to put their heads together, prepare strategies and implement urgent measures to remedy the situation,” he urged.

On the issue of medical education quality, Singh said “the perception of deterioration cannot be allowed to persist and there should be a credible regulatory and institutional mechanism to develop standards”.

Calling for “a serious look at the medical education curriculum to turn out doctors who look at health in a holistic manner beyond clinical and technology driven approach”, he added that the education of health professionals too must be transformed in precept and practice.

“Interdisciplinary learning and health system connectivity should,therefore, become the hallmarks of contemporary medical education. Apart from the study of health and disease, knowledge of health economics, ethics, patient rights, behaviour change communication and information technology should inform and influence the design and delivery of our healthcare systems,” Singh said.

According to him, “medical education should be reconfigured to produce a technically competent, socially sensitive, ethically correct and ready to serve health professional who can respond to the diverse demands of India’s growing health needs”.

He said the Medical Council of India is in the process of revising the MBBS curriculum and incorporating training in Community Medicine at all levels and also rationalised norms for new medical colleges so that new colleges are opened all over the country.

“Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, construction of 6 AIIMS-like institutions at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh is in full swing. The medical colleges are expected to be functional from the academic session 2012-13 and the hospitals by 2013-14,” Singh said.

Extending the centre’s help to develop Puducherry into a hub for higher and professional education, Singh urged the Puducherry government to work with the central Tourism Ministry to explore the possibilities of developing responsible and eco-friendly tourism.