Archive for ‘health’

17/09/2016

India’s Craze for Ayurveda Is Producing Billionaires – India Real Time – WSJ

A yoga teacher clad in white robes and often seen meditating on the banks of the Ganges is the latest to join the billionaires club in India.

But Acharya Balkrishna is no ordinary yoga teacher. He controls Patanjali Ayurved Ltd., the consumer-products company founded by his guru, Baba Ramdev, and whose Ayurvedic soaps, shampoos and food supplements are increasingly becoming staples in middle-class Indian homes. Indians’ craze for the company’s Ayurvedic formulations has seen Mr. Acharya’s net worth skyrocket to $3.8 billion, according to Hurun’s India Rich List for 2016. That puts him at number 25 in Hurun’s list of richest Indians, ahead of industrialists like Ratan Tata, Adi Godrej and Anand Mahindra.

Such is the demand for Patanjali, which sells creams, cleaners and hair conditioners rooted in Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of medicine, that the world’s biggest consumer-products makers are tweaking their products to compete. India’s traditional system of medicine encourages therapies like yoga and believes everything from the common cold to diabetes can be fixed by certain herbs, foods and oils.

Colgate Palmolive last month launched a toothpaste flavored with basil, clove and lemon. L’Oréal SA in June launched a new range of shampoos infused with eucalyptus, green tea and henna, an Indian herb Patanjali also packs in its shampoo. Unilever PLC recently purchased an Ayurvedic hair-care company.

Mr. Balkrishna is a reclusive figure next to Mr. Ramdev, one of India’s best-known yoga teachers who founded Patanjali in 2006 and has since transformed it into a multi-million dollar consumer goods empire. Mr. Balkrishna controls the business because Mr. Ramdev has sworn off most trappings of wealth.

Messrs. Ramdev and Balkrishna are regularly seen practicing yoga on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar, the Hindu holy city where Patanjali is based and where they run an ashram.

Ayurveda has produced other billionaires, too. The Burman family which runs Dabur India, another consumer-goods maker that draws inspiration from traditional Indian medicine, is 13th on Hurun’s India rich list.

Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, is the richest Indian with a net worth of $24 billion. Dilip Shanghvi, who heads generics-drug maker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, is second with $18 billion in his kitty.

Source: India’s Craze for Ayurveda Is Producing Billionaires – India Real Time – WSJ

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15/10/2015

Nobel Prize Winner Angus Deaton on the Chinese and Indian Miracles – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Angus Deaton, the economist who won a Nobel Prize this week, has spent much of his career trying to measure poverty and progress in India and China.

He won the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences award in economics by devising systems to understand consumption and poverty using household surveys and number crunching.

“Deaton’s focus on household surveys has helped transform development economics from a theoretical field based on aggregate data to an empirical field based on detailed individual data,” the academy said.

His decadeslong deep dive into data on the poor, their spending habits and their health gave him a surprisingly upbeat assessment of human progress, largely owed to the great strides that have been made in China and India. His book, “The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality,” documented why the world is a better place to live than it used to be.

A recent World Bank report suggested that more than one billion people might have been lifted out of extreme poverty already this century. Most of that progress was in China and India.

Here are a few of the things Mr. Deaton said in his book about the massive shifts in China and India that are changing the world.

On what China and India have taught us … “China and India are the success stories; rapid growth in large countries is an engine that can make a colossal dent in world poverty.”

On infant mortality in India and China … “India’s decline in infant mortality has been remarkably steady–not at all responsive to changes in the rate of growth–and the absolute decline from 165 out of every 1,000 babies dying in the early 1950s to 53 in 2005-10, is actually larger in absolute numbers than the decline in China, from 122 to 22.”

On how Chinese and Indian bodies have evolved with the economy… “Indian children are still among the skinniest and shortest on the planet but they are taller and plumper than were their parents or grandparents … Indians too are now growing taller decade by decade, though not as quickly as happened in Europe, or indeed as is now happening in China, where people are growing at about (the now familiar figure of) a centimeter every decade. Yet the Indian escape is only half as fast–about half a centimeter a decade–and that figure is for men; Indian women are growing too, but at a much slower rate, so that it takes them sixty years to grow a centimeter.”

On a better measure showing how China and India have lifted the world … “Although China and India are only two countries, their rapid growth at the end of the century meant that around 40% of the world’s population lived in countries that were growing very rapidly … (Thus) the average country grew at 1.5% a year in the half century after 1960, but the average person lived in a country that was growing at 3%.”

On how long the miracle can continue …  “At least over the past half-century the fast-growing countries in one decade have tended not to repeat their performance in the next or subsequent decades. Japan used to be the place that had perpetually high growth, until it didn’t any more. India, now one of the most rapidly growing countries, seemed capable of only slow growth for much of its existence, not to speak of the half-century that preceded its independence, when there was no growth at all. China is the current long-run superstar, but by historical standards the longevity of its growth spurt is extremely unusual.”

On the difficulty of defining poverty …  “In India, as in any country where a substantial fraction of the population is poor, there are millions of people who are close to poverty, either just above or just below the line … We don’t really know where the line should be, yet its precise position makes a huge difference. To put it more brutally, the truth is that we have little idea what we are doing.”

Source: Nobel Prize Winner Angus Deaton on the Chinese and Indian Miracles – China Real Time Report – WSJ

07/05/2015

Primary care centres key to reforming healthcare in India: health economist Kenneth Thorpe

Over 60 percent of deaths in India are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disease, which are also responsible for about 70 percent of spending on healthcare. They also affect the economic health of the country, with NCDs and mental illness expected to cost India $4.58 trillion between 2012 and 2030.

Health economist Dr. Kenneth E. Thorpe, chairman of Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, an international NGO, is advising the government of India on developing a policy to deal with the country’s rising chronic disease problem.

In an interview with India Insight, Thorpe shared his thoughts on how India can reform its healthcare delivery system, the need to replicate successful models of primary health centres to cover the entire country, and why payments for health services need to be changed from out-of-pocket expenses to a subscription-based system and through insurance.

Q: Why should India focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs)?

A: NCDs account for over 60 percent of deaths in India. It’s also a major driver of health spending – 60 to 70 percent of what India spends on healthcare is linked to NCDs. It’s a major problem not just in terms of healthcare but also in terms of productivity.

Q. Which sector is more crucial to improving healthcare delivery in India – government or private?

A: Both. It’s got to be a public-private partnership. So today, India spends about 4 percent of its GDP on healthcare. About one-and-a-half percent of that is the government and the rest is private. So we just need to scale that up – probably proportionally to something like 5 or 6 percent of GDP.

Q: In what way are you working with the Indian government?

A: We’re working on developing a policymaking framework for healthcare reform solution for India.

Q. Has there been any progress?

A: With the Modi government coming in, there was a renewed interest in developing something as a health policy solution for India. They seem very receptive to some of the things that we’re talking about in terms of preventing chronic disease and treating patients that have chronic disease.

Q: What have you been able to achieve?

A: We were here in December and the ministers asked us to put together a blueprint of what would a healthcare reform look like. And so we put together some thoughts that they basically incorporated into their blueprint (National Health Policy) in February. That’s like an outline, so the next point is saying: “How do we operationalise this outline?”

Q: What have you proposed in your blueprint?

A: One is that we really need to build up the primary care infrastructure. We need more manpower, more hospital beds, but we really need capacity – building up primary care clinics, primary care models that really deal with identifying chronic disease, preventing it and managing it. And there are some good models that we’ve identified throughout the country that we think we can scale them and replicate them throughout India.

Q: Are you saying that the main focus should be on primary healthcare centres?

A: That’s the biggest challenge. That’s the starting place. We need to build from the ground up.

Q: And majority of scaling up will have to come from the private sector?

A: I think one of our messages is that the government can’t do this alone. It just doesn’t have the resources to really build the system and build the infrastructure. It’s going to need private sector investment as well. So we’re trying to figure out how we can harness some of the private sector money and help build a healthcare delivery system and potentially a bigger healthcare insurance system.

Q: Where does the government come in?

A: The government has to play a role in funding, particularly low-income populations – the poor that live in rural areas, urban poor.

Q: What else?

A: Manpower training, more doctors and nurses …

Q: Can the government help in nudging private players to increase their participation, especially in rural areas?

A: The government’s got to play a leadership role and say: “Here’s where we are going, here’s the plan, here’s the framework, the blueprint. We’ll work with the states in order to implement this.”

But we need to sort of change the way that healthcare services are paid for. So today in India, 60 percent of spending is out of pocket. So we need to change that from out-of-pocket buying to something like a primary care package (subscription) or an insurance product.

Q:  Very few people in India have health insurance, and health policies have a very limited coverage.

A: I think the insurance model needs to be completely changed. Private insurance covers just 2 percent of the population and it covers only in-patient hospital care. And the problem is that most of these chronic diseases need primary care, medications, home community-based services – things that are not covered in current insurance policies.

Q: Where does India stand on the problem of NCDs as compared to other developing countries?

A: The challenge India faces is its ability to manage and deal with it is way below the average because the capacity is not there, the infrastructure is not there, the manpower is not there, the investment is really not there.

via Primary care centres key to reforming healthcare in India: health economist Kenneth Thorpe.

11/12/2014

Alibaba Tries to Make a Visit to the Doctor Easier – Businessweek

China’s overburdened healthcare system is ripe for reform, and leading technology companies see opportunities in becoming part of the solution.

A Chinese nurse adjusts the infusion rate for a patient at a hospital in Xiangyang city, central China's Hubei province on Jan. 20, 2014.

Take the current system of booking time to see a physician, which is both inefficient and abusive. In order to see a doctor at a leading hospital in Beijing or another major Chinese city, a patient must queue up starting at around 5am and wait in line for several hours just to book an appointment for later that day. Sometimes the patient has the option of buying a hospital slot, typically at an exorbitant fee, from a professional scalper.

In July, Alipay, the popular e-payment system launched by Alibaba Group, began a pilot project to allow patients to book appointments at select hospitals through a smartphone app. A handful of hospitals in Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Kunming, Wenzhou, and Nanchang now participate. It sounds like a simple and intuitive step that should have been tried long ago; notably it’s a technology company, not a medical institution, that’s leading the change.

via Alibaba Tries to Make a Visit to the Doctor Easier – Businessweek.

25/11/2014

China considers tougher tobacco controls: Xinhua | Reuters

China, the world’s biggest tobacco market, is considering a draft regulation that would ban indoor smoking, limit outdoor smoking and end tobacco advertising, the state-run Xinhua news agency has reported.

Girls stand next to a ''No Smoking'' sign at a park downtown Shanghai April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The draft, published by the legislative affairs office of the State Council, or cabinet, and open for public consultation, included plans to curtail smoking scenes in films and TV shows, Xinhua said in a report published late on Monday.

China faces a smoking-related health crisis, with more than 300 million smokers and hundreds of millions more exposed to second-hand smoke each year. However, cigarettes are part of China’s social fabric and advocates of tougher smoking regulations have faced difficulty pushing through controls.

The government’s heavy dependence on tobacco taxes has been a major impediment to anti-smoking efforts. Last year, the tobacco industry contributed more than 816 billion yuan ($131.70 billion) to government coffers, an annual rise of nearly 14 percent.

Sources told Reuters in September that intense lobbying by the powerful state tobacco monopoly had resulted in the weakening of controversial legislation that had meant to introduce a complete advertising ban.

The draft regulation would ban indoor smoking in public places and outdoor spaces in kindergartens, schools, colleges, women’s and children’s hospitals and in fitness venues, Xinhua said. The draft also prohibits selling cigarettes to minors through vending machines.

It urged civil servants, teachers and medical staff to take the lead in tobacco control, saying teachers and medical workers would not be allowed to smoke in front of students or patients.

via China considers tougher tobacco controls: Xinhua | Reuters.

18/09/2014

Chinese Well-Being Is Low, Global Survey Shows – Businessweek

Despite years of rapid economic growth and rising incomes, Chinese aren’t feeling so great about themselves. And Chinese from the countryside are feeling even worse. That’s revealed by a new survey focusing on global well-being, released yesterday for the first time by polling agency Gallup and Healthways (HWAY) in Franklin, Tenn.

The Global Well-Being Index is designed as an alternative to traditional objective measures, such as GDP, life expectancy, and population size, the report explains. Instead, the index, which canvassed 133,000 people in 135 countries and regions, serves as “a global barometer of individuals’ perceptions of their well-being.” It’s important because people with higher well-being are “healthier, more productive, and more resilient in the face of challenges such as unemployment,” the report notes.

To find out just how people feel, the survey looked at five categories of perceived well-being, including financial and physical well-being, but also social well-being (“having supportive relationships and love in your life”), community well-being (“liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community”), and purpose well-being (“liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals”).

So where did the Chinese reveal themselves as particularly glum? On purpose, or feeling motivated every day, 35 percent of Chinese characterized their well-being as low, and 56 percent said it was moderate, while just 9 percent rated it as high. That compared with 13 percent of respondents in Asia who said they had high well-being, and twice as many, or 18 percent, globally.

On social and community well-being, the Chinese also lagged the rest of Asia and the world. And among rural Chinese, far fewer people expressed high satisfaction with their communities than urban Chinese— just 14 percent for those in the countryside, compared to 23 percent in cities. “With better access to education, entertainment, and employment opportunities, it’s not surprising that urban Chinese are more likely to be satisfied with their communities,” the reports says.

That split within China shows up when it comes to financial security, as well. Overall, the Chinese scored highly (Chinese overall also scored well in physical well-being), with 25 percent expressing high financial well-being, the same as the regional and global average. Yet the rate of those with low financial well-being among rural Chinese was twice that of those in Chinese cities, “speaking to China’s ongoing struggle with income inequality that has resulted from rapid growth,” according to the report.

via Chinese Well-Being Is Low, Global Survey Shows – Businessweek.

17/09/2014

Africa’s Ebola Should Be China’s Problem – Bloomberg View

China may be Africa‘s biggest trading partner and one of its biggest investors, but you wouldn’t know that from the size of its contribution toward fighting West Africa’s Ebola outbreak.

China: big on investing, not so much on humanitarianism. Photographer: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty ImagesIn fact, the contrast between its assistance and that of the U.S. is instructive: Today, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would raise the total of U.S. personnel now in Africa dealing with Ebola to 3,000; the U.S. has committed more than $175 million in aid. With much fanfare, China has said it will increase the number of its medical personnel in Sierra Leone to 174 and raise its total amount of assistance to roughly $37 million.

I know, I know: Relative to the U.S., China remains a poor country, and its growing willingness to extend humanitarian assistance outside its borders is a good thing. But consider this: China has close to 20,000 citizens working and living in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Setting aside U.S. money flowing into Liberia’s lucrative shipping registry, China’s investment in those three countries dwarfs that of the U.S. (In fact, China’s trading relationship with Africa overall is twice that of the U.S.) It recently signed deals for iron ore mining in the region that collectively run into the billions of dollars.

via Africa’s Ebola Should Be China’s Problem – Bloomberg View.

12/09/2014

When China Cleans Its Air, Health-Care Costs Plummet – Businessweek

Beijing residents checking the hourly air-quality index online and strapping air-pollution facemasks on their children may miss the halcyon days just before the 2008 Olympics, when the city temporarily cleaned up its skies (at least, relatively speaking). But not every city in China has seen the air grow darker over the past half decade.

Unidentified emissions from a coal-fired power plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, in 2007

The northern city of Taiyuan, capital of coal-rich Shanxi province, has launched several measures to reduce coal burning and emissions. Although its skies are hardly clear, they are clearer. And that has made a noticeable difference in health outcomes and health-care costs, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health.

Over the past decade, Taiyuan has closed several large coal-burning power plants and increased environmental monitoring of its other factories—effectively lowering the average concentration of PM 10 (particulate matter 10 micrometers in diameter or less). As a result, average PM 10 concentrations dropped more than 50 percent from 2001 to 2010.

The economic costs associated with pollution—including health-care expenses, loss of labor productivity, and premature death—correspondingly dropped more than 50 percent, according to estimates by the researchers. Specifically, the researchers correlated reduced air pollution over the course of a decade with 141,457 fewer hospital or doctor visits, 31,810 fewer hospital stays, 969 fewer trips to the emergency room, 951 fewer cases of bronchitis, and 2,810 fewer premature deaths.

via When China Cleans Its Air, Health-Care Costs Plummet – Businessweek.

04/07/2014

Budget 2014: Wishlist from healthcare sector | India Insight

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has its work cut out if it wants to transform the country’s health system and provide a universal health insurance programme.

India has just 0.7 doctors per 1,000 people, and 80 percent of this workforce is in urban areas serving 30 percent of the population, according to industry lobby group NATHEALTH.

Less than 25 percent of the population has access to any form of health insurance. And India’s public and private expenditure on health is around 4 percent of its GDP, the lowest among BRICS countries.

India is seeing a rise in lifestyle diseases and is on its way to become the world’s diabetes capital with more than 60 million diabetics, a number that the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI) estimates will cross 85 million in 2030, or nearly 8 percent of the population today.

India Insight spoke to stakeholders in the healthcare sector about their wishlist for the budget. Edited excerpts:

Dr. Jitendra B. Patel, President, Indian Medical Association

“Impetus has to be given to preventive aspect of treatment. Safe drinking water and sanitation are the two important things which are to be addressed immediately. Primary care should be given more budget than secondary care. For a developing country like India, corporate culture is not going to help the people. We have to serve the poor people.

“Also, the ratio of doctors must increase. For that, more and more medical colleges are the need of the hour.”

via Budget 2014: Wishlist from healthcare sector | India Insight.

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