Doctors in the private sector should report adverse events after immunisation to complete dataset

The Indian Academy of Pediatrics has called for doctors working in the private sector to report adverse events after immunisations to the national surveillance system to ensure more complete vaccine safety data.

In a position paper published in Indian Pediatrics, the academy said that the adverse event following immunization (AEFI) surveillance system run by the government needed to be strengthened by including reports from the private sector.1

India has one of the largest universal immunisation programmes in the world, with 26 million babies born every year. Approximately …Read the full article by Dr. Soumyadeep B at British Medical Journal 

India has world’s highest number of cervical cancer deaths

More women die from cervical cancer in India than in any other country in the world, including China, shows an analysis of data from 50 countries.

The data appear on a crisis card developed by the US based research and advocacy group Cervical Cancer-Free Coalition, which shows that most deaths from cervical cancer occur in the two most populous nations in the world: India and China. Zambia has the highest proportion of deaths from cervical cancer.1

Currently India ranks highest in terms of …

Read full article by Dr. Soumyadeep B at British Medical Journal

Network of high quality cancer hospitals is planned for India

India’s national cancer grid, first proposed in 2010 by the Department of Atomic Energy, is finally taking shape under the leadership of Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai—the nation’s most respected institute for specialist cancer treatment and research.

Tata Memorial Hospital started as a private philanthropy commissioned by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust in 1941 and is currently being run with support from the Indian government’s Department of Atomic Energy. It treats about 43 000 new patients annually from all over India and neighbouring countries. …

Read Dr. Soumyadeep B’s full article at the British Medical Journal

India’s rejection of Novartis’s patent is but a small step in the right direction

Commentators have lauded the decision, but the government must go much further to help the millions of ordinary Indian people indebted because of the cost of common drugs, says Soumyadeep Bhaumik


The ripples India created by issuing the first compulsory licence, of the patented drug sorafenib in 2012,1 are threatening to become a tidal wave now that the Supreme Court has rejected Novartis’s patent application for the β-polymorphic form of imatinib mesylate, called Glivec.2 This landmark judgment has been widely praised by health activists and international humanitarian organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, which depend on cheap Indian generics for supply.3

The decision has been widely portrayed as a major blow to big pharma and a boost to Indian generic drug makers. But how many people will benefit from such moves, which mostly affect expensive drugs that are aimed at patients in private healthcare?

Read the full Commentary on this issue by Dr. Soumyadeep B at the British Medical Journal 

Ban on smoking in workplaces in India has led to more smoke free homes

Legislation prohibiting smoking in public places and at work in India has encouraged fewer people to smoke at home, according to a recent study published online first in Tobacco Control.1

In 2008, the Indian government banned smoking in workplaces and other public places to protect people from second hand smoke. However, section 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 allows designated smoking areas in places such as hotels, and breaching the law attracts only a small fine of about 200 rupees (£2.40; €2.82; $3.65).

Researchers from the United Kingdom, United States, and India looked at data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in India 2009-10 and found that adults who reported that their workplace was smoke free were more likely to have smoke free homes.

Read the entire article by Dr. Soumyadeep B at British Medical Journal 

Child mortality: will India achieve the 2015 target?

India is increasingly seen as an emerging global power, making rapid strides in economic terms. But despite these positive changes, every minute in India three children under 5 years old die.1 Half of all children are malnourished,2 and 70% are anaemic.1 And more than 67 000 women die each year from puerperal causes.3

The big question is whether India will achieve the fourth millennium development goal (MDG) of reducing the child mortality rate by two thirds from that in 1990—that is, to 39 per 1000 live births—by 2015. If India fails it will rank among the least developed nations, confirming suspicions that economic progress is not trickling down to all sections of Indian society.

What do the numbers say?

The United Nations estimates the under 5 mortality rate (U5MR) in 2011 at 61 per 1000 live births, with an average annual reduction of 3.0% (range 3.4% to 2.3%) between 1990 and 2011.4 Almost 30% of global deaths among under 5 year olds are in India, more than in any other country.


To achieve the fourth millennium development goal India needs a quantum leap in the way it cares for children and their mothers, finds Soumyadeep Bhaumik

 Read the full article at British Medical Journal here.

Research Covered in British Medical Journal

Dr. Soumyadeep B’s research published in the latest issue of  Indian Pediatrics has been covered by the British Medical Journal owing to its massive importance in the Indian Medical Publication Arena.


Indian cabinet defers decision on National Urban Health Mission

The Indian cabinet seems on Thursday 21 February to have deferred a decision on the proposed National Urban Health Mission, putting on hold the government’s “ambitious” urban healthcare plan, which was meant to herald the first step towards universal health coverage in India.

The new mission would come under a National Health Mission and would cost Rs22 000 crore (£2.7bn; €3.1bn; $4bn). The proposal has been cleared by the finance ministry’s Expenditure Finance Committee and the Planning Commission. President Pranab Mukherjee said, “An overarching National Health Mission, …

Read the full article by Dr. Soumyadeep B at  the British Medical Journal.

Snakebite: a forgotten problem

When Alexander the Great invaded India in 327-325 BC he was said to be impressed by the arrow heads poisoned with lethal venom from the Russell viper and the advanced clinical acumen of Indian doctors in managing snakebite.1 In 2009 the World Health Organization added snakebite to its list of neglected tropical diseases, hoping to reduce its burden on so many marginalised populations.

“We need to act now to deal effectively with this problem, which causes severe disability, brings misery to families, and which kills thousands of people,” said Lorenzo Savioli, director of the department of control of neglected tropical diseases at WHO.2 However, policy makers, clinicians, and the general public have largely ignored the snakebite problem, even though it kills thousands of people each year and causes social, economic, and personal misery to many more.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, the union health and family welfare minister of the government of India, told the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament, in April 2012 that only 1440 people had died from snakebite in India in 2011.3 WHO, however, predicts as many as 1 841 000 envenomings and 94 000 deaths globally, with India having the most of any country, with an estimated 81 000 envenomings and 11 000 deaths a year.2 The Million Death Study4 estimated some 45 900 deaths from snakebite in India in 2005, about the same number as those from HIV/AIDS.5

Read the full article by Dr. Soumyadeep B at the British Medical Journal

Clinical Trial Data and the “Do no harm” principle

In an era of evidence based medicine clinical trials hold the key to validate or negate a medical intervention, whatsoever is its nature. However, clinical trials have been under increased scrutiny in the recent past due to concerns over violations of ethical concerns and research related injury. Thus it has become imperative on the part of those at the helm of affairs of clinical trials (drug makers as well as non-governmental organisations and governments which funds such studies) to make available the full and complete information of clinical trial available in public domain.

Making clinical trial data available right from the initial phase’s right till its end in the public domain not only enhances the transparency and validity of the trial it is also beneficial to those running the trial itself. It helps to improve the quality of clinical trials by making it possible to identify potential problems as well as allow health care practitioners to identify researchers related to their field.

Read Dr. Soumyadeep B’s response to the BMJ Open Data Campaign at the British Medical Journal (Open Access)