Friday, May 11, 2012

Visiting Education Fair Is Rewarding For Selecting A Course

Lucknow recently (April, 2012) had an education and career fair at Hotel Taj, where several  educational institutions had taken part by showcasing their courses, and facilities they possess. I had a chance of visiting and meeting staff of some institutions. Though, I was  looking primarily for courses in areas  like biological sciences, health, environment, forestry and the like, I was not disappointed because a number of institutions did cover some of those disciplines.

India is advancing rapidly on the education front, and credit in good measure can be given to private institutions, some of which have created excellent infrastructure, facilities and even appointed top ranking teaching faculties. They have allowed development of courses providing creative opportunities to students, and inculcated among them pragmatism, openness, and even hand-holded not so good students to acquire better education and make them productive.

Some institutions which offered courses in Pharmacy, Biotechnology, Medical, Environment, Optometry, etc. were at the career event. There were also few foreign intitutions' India contact offices taking part in the event.

Australia is known for internationalisation, and is a vibrant and welcoming country. Education in Australia provides innovative, creative and independent thinking, similar to  the best education in the Europe and the USA.  Australia does offer very good education opportunities. La Trobe University, Melbourne Victoria, Australia  is known for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Health Sciences, Sciences, Technology, besides Social, Business and Management courses.

A view of stall showcasing programmes from La Trobe University, Australia.

MeriTrain Education Society under Karnataka Government Open University provides courses in Food Science, Food Microbiology, Food Laws, Food Safety Management System. Food sciences have good demand of qualified personnel in these areas.

MeriTrain Education Society, Karnataka Government Open University
display their courses.

Sharda University at Greater Noida is an international university in outlook, infrastructure, and its staffing. It offers the widest range of courses from undergraduate to Ph.D, including MBBS, BDS, MBA, B.Tech, etc.

The  working environment at the university is of international standards. The university offers  flexible credit based courses, and opportunity to improve grades, a Wi-Fi campus with seamless wireless connectivity with over 1Gbps bandwidth. The university is built around the best modern learning practices of the UK and the USA. Besides students from India, the university also has students from  other countries.

A galaxy of permanent international teaching faculty from over 18 countries can be called the USP of the university.

Showcasing of courses by Sharda University, Greater Noida, India.

The University of Petroleum & Energy Studies, Dehradun, besides offering other B.Tech programmes, it offers M.Tech in Health, Safety & Environmental Engineering, the required qualification are B.Tech preferably in environmental sciences, with guaranteed 100 percent placements. The university is India's first energy university, and has excellent facilities.

IEC Group of Institutions, Greater Noida, offers B.Parm and M.pharm courses. M.Pharm are available in Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology, and Pharmacognosy. The group is known for quality education, in the field of Science, Technology, and Management.

Dr.D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune offers one year certificate courses in Hospital Administration & Health Management (ACHAHM), besides another course in Advance Certificate Maternal & Child Health (ACMCH). The Institute of Optometry and Visual Sciences provides both diploma and degree courses.

AMET University, situated at Kanathur, the outskirts of Chennai, is India's first University in maritime education. Beside other courses it offers postgraduate (M.Sc) programmes in Marine Biotechnology, and research programmes (M.Phil) in Marine Bio-Technology and Marine-Biology, and Ph.D programme. It is the only university of its kind in India that caters to the needs of  Indian and global marine and shipping industry needs for trained manpower.

Though the list of institutions covered above may be few they may provide help and directions to aspiring students to select courses and universities of their choice. 

According to a notification available at the fair, Global Education Interact-X, scheduled at several cities , offers an opportunity for UG and PG admissions to about 50 universities in six countries for intakes of July/September/october/November 2012. The event offers opportunity to meet delegates of universities and assessment for eligibility. Aspiring students can visit the website of The Chopras, and register.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Global Plan to Eliminate Measles & Rubella Launched

 According to a WHO press release on 24 April, the partners have announced a new global strategy aimed at reducing measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero.

The announcement comes with the publication of new data using a state-of-the-art methodology showing that accelerated efforts to reduce measles deaths have resulted in a 74% reduction in global measles mortality, from an estimated 535 300 deaths in 2000 to 139 300 in 2010.

Progress in sub-Saharan Africa

Vaccination has been key to this progress. Through increased routine immunization coverage and large-scale immunization campaigns, sub-Saharan Africa made the most progress with an 85% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010, according to a new study published in today’s Lancet.

Vaccinating over a billion children

Since 2001, the Measles Initiative has supported developing countries to vaccinate over one billion children against measles. Now, in keeping with the new Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan to control and eventually eliminate measles and rubella, the initiative is called the Measles & Rubella Initiative. Measles and rubella elimination naturally go hand-in-hand, as measles and rubella vaccines are routinely combined in a single shot.

“A three-quarters drop in measles deaths worldwide shows just how effective well-run vaccination programmes can be,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization . “Now we need to take the next logical step and vaccinate children against rubella, too.”

Investment and political commitment are critical

The new data underscores that progress in reducing measles deaths was especially strong from 2001 to 2008. However, when investment and political commitment to measles control faltered in 2008 and 2009, many children were not immunized. Measles came roaring back and caused large outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. In 2010, an estimated 19 million infants – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia – did not receive measles vaccine.

These outbreaks combined with a delayed start in intensifying measles control in India, meant that the goal of 90% reduction in measles mortality by end 2010 compared with 2000 levels was not met. India accounted for about 47% of global measles deaths in 2010. In addition, target dates for measles elimination goals in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean and European regions had to be revised.

“Recent measles outbreaks have affected children in the world unevenly, with the poorest and youngest children the most at risk of death or disability,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “This new Strategic Plan stresses that measles and rubella vaccinations must be delivered to children deep in the poorest and hardest to reach communities.”

Strategic Plan to cut deaths

The new Strategic Plan presents a five-pronged strategy to cut global measles deaths by at least 95% by 2015 compared with 2000 levels and to achieve measles and rubella elimination in at least five WHO regions by 2020. The strategies include:
  • high vaccination coverage;
  • monitoring spread of disease using laboratory-backed surveillance;
  • outbreak preparedness and response and measles case management;
  • communication and community engagement; and
  • research and development.
“Measles continues to kill children around the world and rubella is the leading infectious cause of congenital malformations in newborn infants; these are avoidable tragedies,” says Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, CDC Director. “This new plan outlines strategies we know work. It is time to partner with key countries to implement the plan in order to save our children from these terrible diseases.”

Under the new strategy, 62 countries currently not using rubella vaccine are encouraged to use their measles vaccination delivery system to introduce rubella vaccine into their national immunization schedule and protect families against both diseases with one combined shot . Many high-income countries already offer routine immunization for both measles and rubella through the use of combined measles-rubella or measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

Millions of volunteers join the combat

"The American Red Cross leverages the capacity of its partners in the Red Cross and Red Crescent network and their network of millions of volunteers to combat these two diseases," said David Meltzer, Senior Vice President, International Services of the American Red Cross. "By working closely with these volunteers – trusted neighbors and community members – to literally go door-to-door, explaining the importance of receiving routine immunizations and participating in campaigns, we can continue to fight these deadly diseases."

The newly-renamed Measles & Rubella Initiative has strong support from GAVI and is welcoming new partners including the American Academy of Pediatrics, International Pediatric Association, Lions Clubs International and Sabin Vaccine Institute.

Financial support for the vaccine

From 2012, developing countries can apply to GAVI for financial support with the combined measles-rubella vaccine, a low-cost and effective vaccine, deliverable through existing immunization structures. GAVI will also continue to offer the measles second dose vaccine.

“We’re delighted to strengthen our partnership with the renamed Measles & Rubella Initiative, which has done great work to reduce measles infections and reduce mortality,” GAVI CEO, Dr Seth Berkley MD, said. “With GAVI’s US$ 605 million investment for both the combined MR and measles second dose vaccines in developing countries, this is an historic moment for the reduction and hopefully eventual elimination of both diseases,” he said.

US$ 112 million still needed

According to Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, an additional US$ 112 million is needed to achieve the global measles and rubella goals for 2015. “We need significant commitments from governments and the private sector if we are going to stop measles and rubella, as well as the support of individuals worldwide because a small donation from the public can go a long way and help save many lives.”

The release of the new measles mortality data and the Strategic Plan coincides with WHO’s World Immunization Week, with over 180 countries worldwide rolling out various activities to raise awareness and take action on the importance of immunization.

About measles and rubella

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to humankind and an important cause of death and disability among children worldwide. Those unvaccinated against the disease are at risk of severe health complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and encephalitis (a dangerous infection of the brain causing inflammation) and blindness. The disease can be fatal. The vast majority of measles deaths occur in developing countries.

Rubella, transmitted through airborne droplets, is generally a mild illness. But when a pregnant woman becomes infected, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy, serious consequences can occur including miscarriages, still births, and infants born with birth defects known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). The most common congenital defects include lifelong heart problems, deafness or blindness (cataracts). An estimated 112 000 cases of CRS occur each year and are preventable through vaccination.

Measles & Rubella Initiative

The Measles & Rubella Initiative is a global partnership committed to ensuring no child dies from measles or is born with congenital rubella syndrome. Founded originally as the Measles Initiative in 2001, it’s led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Since 2001, the Initiative has supported 80 countries to deliver more than one billion doses of measles vaccine, helped to raise measles vaccination coverage to 85% globally, and reduced measles deaths by 74%. These efforts have contributed significantly to reducing child mortality as per Millennium Development Goal 4.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Government Approves Testing Facilities For Traditional Medicines

The Department of AYUSH, MoHFW has approved nine AYUSH clusters in eight States, one each in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and two in Maharashtra for setting up of AYUSH industry cluster (Special Purpose Vehicle) as common facilities centres for manufacturing and testing facilities for Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani medicines.

The scheme for Development of AYUSH industry cluster  is based on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode which implies that willing industry representatives desirous of framing cluster can apply and obtain matching grant under the scheme.

Since the project entails availability of infrastructure and willingness on the part of Special Purpose Vehicle members, it is for the SPV to decide the location for setting up the AYUSH industry cluster.

The above information was given in a written reply by the Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, S.Gandhiselvan in the Lok Sabha on 27 April.

UN Secretary General Lauds India's Efforts in Health Care

The discussion between the Indian Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, who was on an official visit to India from 26-29 April 2012, have focused on global opportunities in health care, according to a PIB release of 26 April.

The UN SG’s visit focused on important issues related to public health. Azad reportedly conveyed to UN Secretary General to use his offices to urge member nations to not only reduce their financial and technical support to public health initiatives for the common benefit of the global community.


Azad recalled that recently United Nations organized High level Meetings of the Heads of States’, Heads of Governments’ and Health Ministers’ from across the globe on the most vital subjects of HIV/AIDS and Non-Communicable Diseases in the months of June and September, 2011 respectively. He informed that the National AIDS Control Programme with 100% federal funding has succeeded in reducing the number of annual new HIV infections by over 56% during the last decade.

India has the world’s largest HIV surveillance network with more than 1300 sentinel sites among key risk groups enabling effective targeting of prevention and treatment interventions to the right population groups and geographic areas and sustain an IEC campaign aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. Azad added that the Government of India has decided to carry the work against HIV/AIDS forward by funding the phase IV of the National AIDS Control Programme through domestic resources.

 The Minister also highlighted that WHO has recently taken India off the list of Polio endemic countries.

As regards Non Communicable Diseases the Minister said that Secretary General’s efforts at sensitizing the global leadership about the challenges posed by the rapidly rising threat of NCDs, across the world – in both developed and developing countries, is appreciable. He said that, ahead of the UN General Assembly special session, India conceived and launched national programmes for screening, early detection and treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases such as Diabetes, Cardio-Vascular Diseases, Cancer and Stroke as well as for health care of the elderly.

To begin with, India has taken up these initiatives for implementation as a pilot project in 100 most remote and backward districts, spread over 21 States at a cost of approximately 245 million USD (Rs. 1230 crores). “Covering a population base of almost 100-150 million, this is the largest such exercise attempted anywhere in the World”, he said.

 “We have decided to expand these national programmes to the entire country during the 12th five year plan period, beginning from April 2012, to screen the entire population for early detection of NCDs and provide for treatment through free distribution of generic drugs under our attempt at achieving universal health coverage”, Azad added.

Azad also informed that “Health” has been identified as the key thrust area in the 12th Five year plan and Government’s spending on health care is set to increase with greater outlay for the public health sector. In the field of Reproductive and Child Health special initiatives have been undertaken to ensure access to health services to un-served and under served populations that include people living in predominantly tribal and hilly areas.

As prevention by raising awareness is an effective way of dealing with challenges, Azad mentioned that on this World Health Day, the Ministry has taken a new initiative of reaching out to masses through the medium of television and radio channels so that benefits of programmes of the Ministry such as the Janani Suraksha Yojna, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram, special programmes launched to combat neonatal and infant mortality - for instance operationalizing essential and advanced new-born care at various levels of health facilities, Home Based New-born Care Scheme and Mother and Child Tracking System actually reach the people.

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon fondly recalled his long association with India. He said India is one of the important member states of UN. While taking cognizance of work still to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Mr Moon said he would like to showcase India’s experiences and best practices in dealing with maternal and child health issues for others to follow.

Ban Ki-Moon commended India’s success in combating Polio and said that they would wish to help India in dealing with Polio, Malaria, Tetanus, Measles and HIV transmission related mortality.  Moon added “simple things mean a lot” and mentioned his programme “Every Woman Every Child” which has focused world’s attention on the right to life for every child and woman.