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Medically Speaking


Shalini Bhardwaj



The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has announced a pan-India relay hunger strike of doctors, which will start from February 1, in protest against a notification issued by the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) that will allow postgraduate practitioners of Ayurveda to perform general surgical procedures, including 58 types of surgical procedures. This sort of medicine has been given the name “mixopathy”.

“We object to the mixing of streams as it is unsafe and unscientific. People should have a right to choose the stream for getting treated by any system of medicine from qualified doctors of that system,” says the statement by the IMA.

The IMA has given directions to all its members across the country to launch the “Save Healthcare India Movement”, the statement informed. Doctors will take turns to sit on a 24-hour hunger strike from February 1. The IMA will release posters and banners for awareness across the country.

“All IMA members shall update their Members of Parliament and MLAs regarding the true picture of the notification and integration policy. IMA will also give its representations to all state governments. Under this Save People Movement, all NGOs will be updated on the core issues. Representatives of the IMA shall visit the various places across the country for public awareness,” the statement added.

Besides these efforts, the IMA will also write to the Prime Minister and convey its feelings, the association said.

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Medically Speaking


Shalini Bhardwaj



The AIIMS facility of Patna has given consent on the motion to terminate its faculty members for lacking basic qualifications at the time of their recruitment.

These members include Ajit Saxena, professor and head of the pathology department, Sushmita Das, associate professor in the microbiology department and Alok Ranjan, an assistant professor in the department of community and family medicine. One of them had even been promoted during the August-September 2017 assessment promotion scheme of the institution.

The government body of the institute made no comments on the decision it took on Thursday regarding the matter.

According to a media report, the matter goes back to 2011 when the institute advertised for faculty recruitment in December. However, the advertisement had clearly mentioned that the appointment required a PG degree recognised by the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI), now National Medical Commission (NMC). However, two of the faculty members only had postgraduate degrees in zoology, a non-medical subject, during their appointment in 2012-2013. Meanwhile, although Ranjan had the required qualification, he lacked a Ph.D. degree at the time of his recruitment.

Sources informed The Sunday Guardian that the assistant professor had fulfilled the required criteria within nine months of his joining (September 7, 2012) and submitted his Ph.D. degree from a USA-based university. However, the other two still lacked the required qualifications.

A total of 19 faculty members were scrutinised regarding the matter. Some of them criticized the penalty which they faced eight years after the fault committed by the Selection Committee, while a few have moved the court against the disciplinary action taken by the institute.

Sources informed that an IPS officer blew the cover of the terminated professors while Kishore Yadav, Deputy Director (Administration) of AIIMS-Patna, brought the matter to light in 2013.

Later, the Vikas Arya committee, constituted by the Union Health Ministry in 2014, also marked the appointments faulty. Finally, a five-member high-powered committee consisting of directors of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar and AIIMS-Patna also found the recruitment of the three members bogus.

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Medically Speaking


Shalini Bhardwaj



The Indian Medical Association has expressed dismay at the “blatant lie” of WHO certifying Patanjali’s Coronil, a medicine that founder Baba Ramdev claims as the first one against Covid-19.

Baba Ramdev has claimed that Coronil can be used for the prevention and treatment of Covid as well as in post-Covid phase treatment. It was also mentioned that it is the first evidence-based medicine. The claims were made at the launch of the medicine, in the presence of Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

However, WHO clarified in a tweet that it has not reviewed or certified the efficacy of Patanjali’s Covid-19. “WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment Covid19,” WHO’s regional office for South-east Asia posted on its official Twitter handle.

In a two-page statement, the IMA has demanded an answer from the Health Minister, asking, “How appropriate and rational is it to release such false projections in front of the whole country? Being a Health Minister of the country, how justified is it to release such falsely fabricated unscientific products? How ethical is it to promote the product in unethical, wrong and false ways to the whole country? Being a modern medicine doctor, how ethical is it to promote the unscientific product.”

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Medically Speaking


Over 5% of the world’s population suffer from hearing loss and it is estimated that by 2050, one in every ten people will have disabling hearing loss.

Dr W.V.B.S Ramalingam



Hearing loss is the most widespread sensory deficit across the globe. Any hearing loss greater than 40 decibels (dB) in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30 dB in the better hearing ear in children can result in disabling hearing loss. Hearing loss can range from mild to moderate, severe, or profound and can affect one ear or both ears.

Over 5% of the world’s population, of all age groups, which is about 466 million people (432 million adults and 34 million children) suffer from hearing loss and it is estimated that by 2050, approximately 900 million people i.e., one in every ten people will have disabling hearing loss. About 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes and almost 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12–35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings.

Causes of hearing loss and deafness can be varied including:

1. Congenital causes: Present at or acquired soon after birth, this kind of hearing loss can be caused by hereditary and non-hereditary genetic factors or due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth such as:

• maternal rubella, syphilis or certain other infections during pregnancy

• low birth weight

• birth asphyxia (lack of oxygen at the time of birth)

• inappropriate use of particular drugs during pregnancy

• severe jaundice in the neonatal period, which can damage the hearing nerve in newborns

2. Acquired causes: This kind of hearing loss can occur at any age due to:

• infectious diseases including meningitis, measles and mumps

• chronic ear infections

• collection of fluid in the ear (otitis media)

• use of certain medicines known as ototoxic drugs

• injury to the head or ear

• excessive noise, including occupational such as that from machinery and explosions

• recreational exposure to loud sounds such as that from use of personal audio devices at high volumes or staying close to speakers in pubs and discotheques

• ageing, in particular due to degeneration of sensory cells

• wax or foreign bodies in ear canal

The impact of hearing loss can also be very profound and far reaching. Functional impact: The individual loses his/her ability to communicate with others. Spoken language development is delayed in children with hearing loss leading to adverse effect on their academic performance.

Social and emotional impact: Impaired communication due to hearing loss can have a significant impact on everyday life, causing feelings of loneliness, isolation, and frustration, particularly among older people.

Prevention: Hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be avoided by taking preventive actions such as:

• immunising children against childhood diseases, including measles, meningitis, rubella and mumps

• immunising adolescent girls and women of reproductive age against rubella before pregnancy

• preventing cytomegalovirus infections in expectant mothers

• following healthy ear care practices

• reducing exposure (both occupational and recreational) to loud sounds

• screening of children for otitis media

• avoiding use of particular drugs which may be harmful to hearing

• Screening infants at high risk

• Educating general population on hearing loss

• Seeking professional help in time for hearing loss or ear diseases

• Getting hearing tests done regularly for those at high risk of hearing loss

People with hearing loss can benefit from early identification, use of hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive devices and in severe cases with captioning and sign language as well as other forms of educational and social support.

The writer is Senior Director and HoD, ENT and Cochlear Implant, BLK Super Speciality Hospital.

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Medically Speaking

The myth of Covid-busting multivitamins

With the pandemic causing people to worry more about their health and immunity, multivitamins and other supplements have been flying off the shelves at pharmacies. However, top medical experts warn us to be careful.

Shalini Bhardwaj



The increasing sale of multivitamins during the Covid-19 pandemic has given birth to a new controversy. Due to the pandemic, people concerned about their health and immunity have been popping more pills—even giving it to their children—but doctors and medical experts say that nobody should be taking multivitamins without a prescription because they can lead to various health problems.

Dr Padma SrivastavaDr S. ChatterjeeDr Ashish Khattar

Weighing on the matter, Dr Padma Srivastava, Professor and Senior Neurologist at AIIMS, Dr Ashish Khattar, General Physician at Venkateshwar Hospital, and Dr Suranjeet Chatterjee, Senior Consultant for Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, spoke to The Sunday Guardian.

Q: Do you think multivitamins like vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc can protect from Covid-19 or is it a myth?

Dr Padma Srivastava: Vitamins and various combinations of supplements and nutraceuticals are available freely over the counter without prescription. This, coupled with the strong belief that the intake of these will boost immunity and protect against various ailments, including Covid-19, has possibly led to an indiscriminate intake of these agents and a boom in their sales. Unfortunately, the truth lies somewhere in between. Indiscriminate use can lead to drug interactions and toxicity, so it can’t be assumed to be totally innocuous. But we cannot say that these are not beneficial because they certainly are prescribed in certain medical conditions. People also believe that popping low-cost multivitamins is more affordable than eating costly fruits or veggies! But popping a pill will not be a panacea for all evils or for living healthy ever after. We need to have a balance. And we should not be consuming these without medical advice.

Dr Ashish Khattar: It is not that vitamins or other supplements are disease-specific or anti-Covid. It has been found in research that they help in boosting and maintaining immunity and that having them is good for health, to an extent. But eating vitamins for too long or a mixture of these vitamins, without a prescription, is harmful for our health. Covid-19 is not anti-vitamin or anti-zinc, it is a viral disease. Vitamins only work in a specific way. A few are good for respiratory epithelium, few others are good for mucosal lining and a few are good for bones but they don’t cure Covid. There are countless patients who have been on vitamins and supplements for months and still caught Covid eventually. The vitamins must have protected them for a certain period of time if they had been exposed to a good amount of viral inoculum. But again, I would say that vitamins are not anti-Covid. You must take them with a prescription from a doctor and for a short time as they have their toxins.

Dr S. Chatterjee: They have to be taken under some supervision or guidance. You cannot take them for long periods as they have their own side effects. They may interact with several other medications you might be taking and slow down their effects. They have some beneficial effects like immunity boosting. It’s being believed that zinc and vitamins prevent Covid but that is not true—they just help with immunity. Supplements cause side effects and should be taken with medical advice only.

Q: Have you come across patients who had been taking supplements for a long time and suffered from side effects?

Dr S. Chatterjee: There were relevant studies in the Western world which said that a low vitamin D level was associated with severe symptoms of Covid, so it can be said that vitamin D is an essential supplement. So people were suggested to have it. But somehow many of them did not follow up with their medical advisor and what had been prescribed and took it for months together. They came out with toxically high levels of vitamin D. Supplements like vitamin D have to be taken in specific amounts for a specific duration.

Q: Children also seem to be taking such supplements. Do you think they can suffer serious side effects as a result?

Dr Ashish Khattar: Every child knows the brand name of the common vitamins. Although Covid does not affect children to a huge extent, some symptoms like the common cold might appear. But I would still suggest that vitamins should not be taken loosely without any guidance. Children can pick up a habit of taking such pills from their environment, but if you see such a child, you can guide them to a general physician. Nobody should be popping pills on the advice of colleagues, family members or friends without a medical prescription.

Q: Indians bought over 500 crore multivitamin pills to fight Covid-19. Data says that the sale of Zincovit increased by 93% and vitamin C pills by 110%. Do you think stopping over-the-counter sales of such pills will help in this situation?

Dr S. Chatterjee: Vitamins and other medications are sold over the counter all around the world and stopping their sale is impossible because a few ailments require such medications. But their use has to be regulated. People need to understand that crossing the limit for having these medications may cause side effects. Even having a safe supplement can prove to be harmful. They can interact with other medicines and cause side effects in the lining of the body. Thus, you need to be careful when taking these medications for a long time.

Q: Social media videos say that vitamin D works as a hormonal medicine and protects people from Covid-19. What would you say about that?

Dr Ashish Khattar: There have been studies which show that low vitamin D levels are associated with severe Covid symptoms because South-east Asian countries saw a more severe form of the disease while the UK and the US were seeing the initial phases of the infection. But it doesn’t mean that you should take vitamin D for months at a time. So, an optimal use of multivitamins can be helpful but the unguided use of supplements for a year or so can be harmful.

Q: What would be your message for the masses following this myth of vitamin D supplements?

Dr S. Chatterjee: Supplements can help you in fighting with Covid but you have to follow the precautions that we have been preaching for the last one year and are being taught by the media constantly. Maintain social distancing, wash hands frequently as the virus will remain for the next couple of months. Even if you are vaccinated, you need to wear masks because although you may not get infected, avoiding masks might make you infect others. All these precautions have to continue for the next couple of months.

Dr Ashish Khattar: We have to achieve herd immunity and maybe a year after that we will need to vaccinate ourselves again. The Covid era has not ended. Although the cases have declined, we can see other global waves around the world due to other strains of the virus. So do not avoid taking precautions, listen to the experts’ guidance and don’t let your guards down. Please don’t land up believing in any kind of myth. Take precautions for yourself and your family, eat nutritious foods, and follow a healthy daily routine. Otherwise, we might be in trouble again.

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Medically Speaking


Shalini Bhardwaj



New Delhi: Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd announced that it has initiated the process for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the well-studied human adenoviral vector-based platform vaccine candidate Sputnik V, with the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).

As part of the review process, Dr. Reddy’s will present the safety profile of the phase two study and interim data of the phase three study, which is expected to be complete by 21 February 2021.

In September 2020, Dr Reddy’s partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to conduct the clinical trials of the Sputnik V and for its distribution rights in India. The vaccine is currently undergoing the phase three clinical trial in India.

Sputnik V has demonstrated an efficacy rate of 91.6% in the interim analysis of the phase three clinical trial, which included data on 19,866 volunteers in Russia, who received both the first and second doses of the vaccine. Sputnik V maintained a consistent efficacy at 91.8% even among the group of 2,144 volunteers over 60 years old.

“The efficacy of Sputnik V was reported to be 91.6% by the Lancet, which is an impressive development in the fight against COVID-19. The initiation of the EUA process will be a critical step forward for us in ensuring speedy access to the Sputnik V vaccine in India,” said G V Prasad, Co-chairman and Managing Director, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.

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Medically Speaking


Shalini Bhardwaj



Vacancies for the post of Senior Resident on a contractual basis have been announced by the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) for the Department of Nephrology. Candidates will be selected on the basis of a written test and a walk-in interview on 3 March 2021.

JIPMER has announced two vacancies for the position, and candidates should complete all the requirements for the qualifying degree (e.g. passing the examination and completing the mandatory period of work, if any) by 31-03-2021, in order to be eligible for selection.

There is also an age limit and candidates should not be more than 45 years old, as on 31 March 2021.

People who have appeared for the qualifying examination but whose result is yet to be declared will be allowed to participate provisionally. However, such candidates will have to email a scanned copy of their result to by 31-03-2021. If the result of the qualifying exam is not declared or received by 31-03-2021, their candidature will stand cancelled.

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