Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stem Cell Division in Central Drugs Standard Control Organization

The Directorate General of Health Services, Office of Drugs Controller General(India) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has established a Stem Cell Division within Biological Division in Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (HQ) for the internal evaluation of all proposals including stem cell concerning with clinical trial and marketing authorization.
Till recently, there was no mechanism in place to take note of the cases violating these guidelines or take action against the agencies found violating these guidelines. In a step towards this direction, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Govt. of India) vide order dated 1st September 2010 constituted a Core Investigational New Drug (IND) Panel of Experts namely “Cellular Biology Based Therapeutic Drug Evaluation Committee (CBBTDEC) under the chairmanship of Director General, ICMR & Secretary, DHR to advice DCGI in matters pertaining to regulatory pathways leading to the approval of clinical trials and market authorization for the “Therapeutic products derived from Stem Cell, human Gene manipulation and Xenotransplantation technology”. CBBTDEC has deliberated on the need for strengthening the regulatory agency (DCGI) by establishing separate wing for Stem Cell Research supported with knowledge and capacity to regulate the activities in the country.
ICMR jointly with Dept. of Biotechnology has formulated Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Therapy (2007) to help clinicians and scientists working in the field to conduct research in responsible scientific and ethically sensitive manner. Understanding the recent advances in the field, the guidelines are being revised in 2012. The draft guidelines are available on ICMR website (
As suggested in the guidelines, all the Institutes working in the field of Stem Cells Research and therapy have to constitute Institutional Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy (IC-SCRT) to oversee the activities and proper implementation of all guidelines. The guidelines have also suggested having National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy i.e. (NAC-SCRT) to oversee the activities at National level, where all the IC-SCRTs will be registered. Guidelines do suggest the responsibility of investigator and IC-SCRT to oversee activities at institution level and report to NAC-SCRT in case of violation/unethical practices. So far council has not received any complaints at institutional level.
The above information was laid in the Lok Sabha today by the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Improving Rural Health Scenario

Central Government has taken various measures for improvement in the rural health scenario. These include: -

(i)      Financial support is provided to under National Rural Health Mission for engagement of staff on contractual basis.
(ii)   Amended the Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations to encourage doctors to serve in the rural areas by giving 50% reservation in post graduate diploma courses for medical officers in Government service and incentive at the rate of 10% of the marks obtained for each year in service in remote or difficult areas upto the maximum of 30% of the marks obtained in the entrance test for admissions in post graduate medical courses.

Further, in order to address the serious concern of shortage of availability of human resources in health sector in rural areas, the Government is committed to introduce the BRHC course, with inbuilt safeguards.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), while opposing the nature and length of the proposal for Bachelor of Rural Health Care (BRHC) course inter-alia suggested the following for improvement in the rural health scenario:-

(i)       Increasing age of retirement to 65 or allowing re-employment of doctors after retirement on attractive salary and incentives in rural areas only;
(ii)     Compulsory working for one year in rural areas before permanent registration by Medical Council of India (MCI);
(iii)  Reservation of post graduate admission for doctors who have served in rural areas;
(iv)   Opening of more medical colleges in rural areas by allowing public private partnership;
(v)     Giving incentives and attractive salaries and allowances for working in remote areas, etc.

The above information was given in written reply by the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad in the Lok  Sabha today.

On the auction of 2G spectrum

On the auction of 2G spectrum, the Government today said it is difficult to predict likely changes in call rates of mobile telephones in the wake of cancellation of 122 licenses as per Supreme Court verdict. This is because, as per the current Tariff framework, call rates of mobile services are under forbearance except for national roaming where ceiling tariff has been specified. Mobile operators have the flexibility to offer different tariffs depending on the market conditions and the other commercial considerations.
In Rajya Sabha today, the Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Sh Milind Deora said in order to protect the interest of the consumers, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has mandated the following stipulations:- 1) No tariff items in the tariff plans shall be increased
i) in respect of tariff plans with prescribed periods of validity of more than six months including tariff plans with lifetime or unlimited validity during the entire period of validity specified in the tariff plan;
ii) in respect of other tariff plans, within six months from the dated of enrollment of the subscriber: and,
iii) in case of recharge coupons with a validity of more than six months under any tariff plan, during the entire period of validity of such recharge coupon.
2) Not more than 25 tariff plans are allowed to be offered by a service provider for a particular service at any given point of time.
3) The tariffs are reported to TRAI within 7 days of implementation. The tariff reports are subjected to scrutiny in order to ensure that they are in compliance with regulatory requirements. Also, whenever tariffs are revised upward, it is ensured that these are not applied to subscribers who enjoy tariff protection as per the provisions of tariff orders issued by TRAI.

Third Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies of SAARC countries

 Foundation Stone of New Campus of India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) to be laid on Monday Election Commission of India is hosting the Third Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies of SAARC Countries here from 30 April to 2 May, 2012. The Conference brings together the Chief Election Commissioners and senior election officials of the region on a common platform to share experience of best practices in election administration and management. The Conference will build on the initiatives and exchanges discussed at the previous Conferences. Discussions will also focus on the final shape of the Forum of SAARC Election Management Bodies, which has been approved in principle at the last Conference held in Islamabad. The conference will be inaugurated by Dr S Y Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner of India. Some of the important topics to be discussed are: Empowerment of Election Management Bodies; Inclusive elections (gender issues, marginalized sections, minorities etc.), Voters Education, Controlling Money Power in Elections, Technology for cost-effective elections etc.
The idea of holding such Conferences took concrete shape at the 37th Session of the Standing Committee of SAARC, held at Thimphu, in April, 2010. Bangladesh hosted the first Conference in May 2010, where initial discussions on creating a Forum of SAARC EMBs were also held.
The second Conference was held in Islamabad by the Election Commission of Pakistan. It focussed on experience sharing, and also discussed the draft charter of the proposed Forum. It adopted a resolution to establish the Forum. A number of initiatives on mutual exchanges and training activities were discussed, and bilateral arrangements were tied up between member Commissions. During the Conference, Chief Election Commissioner of India offered to host the 3rd Conference in New Delhi, which was accepted.
Election Commission of India works in close collaboration with the Election Management Bodies of South Asian Countries. In the recent weeks officials for the Election Commission of Afghanistan, Maldives and Bhutan received training at the India International Institute of Democracy and Election management IIIDEM.
Laying the Foundation Stone of the IIIDEM new Campus in Dwarka
Coinciding with the SAARC Heads of EMBs conference, Foundation Stone of new campus of India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) will be laid by Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner of India, on Monday, at Dwarka, New Delhi in the presence of Election Commissioners Shri V. S. Sampath and Shri H.S. Brahma and Heads of Election Management Bodies of SAARC countries. They include Mr.Fazel Ahmad Manawi, Chairman, Independent Election Commission, Afghanistan, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, Chief Election Commissioner, Bangladesh, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, Chief Election Commissioner, Bhutan, Mr. Neel Kantha Upreti, Chief Election Commissioner, Nepal, Mr.Ibrahim Waheed, Commissioner, Election Commission, Maldives, Mr. Justice (R ) Muhammad R. Essani, Member, Election Commission Pakistan and Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Commissioner of Elections, Sri Lanka. Shri Tejendra Khanna, Hon. Lt. Governor of Delhi will be the Chief Guest at the event.
ECI plans to develop IIIDEM as an advanced resource centre of learning, research, training and extension of participatory democracy and election management. Presently, IIIDEM operates from the premises of the election Commission of India in New Delhi.
The funds to the tune of Rs 48 crores have been approved for 2011-12 and 2012-13 for construction of the new campus.
At present, training courses of IIIDEM are being conducted in the interim premises of this Institute at Election Commission of India. IIIDEM, since its launch in June 2011 has hosted 32 courses for more than 500 election officials and other stakeholders in all aspects of Election management. Training courses are already lined up at IIIDEM in the coming weeks for the upcoming Summary Revision and General Elections in some of the states.
Besides the national training programmes, IIIDEM has also conducted five courses for Kenyan, Maldivian, Bhutanese and Afghanistan election officials and Nigerian Election Commissioners. There are requests for such courses from Nepal and Fiji. Over the ten months of its existence, IIIDEM has become a hub for national and international training courses, seminars and workshops. Standard training modules for international participants have already been developed by a renowned team of Indian and International experts.

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