Wearing helmets and seat belts are harm reduction strategies

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

About 88% reduction in head and brain injury can be achieved through this

New Delhi, 9th February 2019: India lost 1,47,913 people to road crashes in 2017, of which 48,764 were on two-wheelers, 26,869 were car crash victims, 20,457 were pedestrian deaths, and 3,559 were cyclists. This roughly amounts to an average of over 400 deaths every day on Indian roads. As India observes the Road Safety Week till the 10th February 2019, there is a need to revisit the practice of wearing helmets and make it mandatory.

Statistics indicate that preventing head injuries by wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of brain injury. A 2009 systematic review of five case-control studies found that helmets provide a 63% to 88% reduction in the risk of head, brain, and severe brain injuries and a 65% reduction of injuries to the upper and mid-face for bicyclists of all ages. In children (<15 years of age), wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 63% and that of loss of consciousness by 86%.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “A Harm Reduction conference was organized by the HCFI and IJCP at Maple Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on 30 January 2019. The conference brought out the importance of wearing helmets and seat belts as a harm reduction strategy, among other ways. There is an urgent need to increase public awareness about traffic rules including the importance of wearing helmets and seat belts. Apart from those who drive two- and four-wheelers, pregnant women should also wear three-point seat belts. These seat belts provide significantly more benefit than risk to the mother and fetus in the event of collision.”

Harm reduction are realistic (not idealistic) interventions aimed at achievable goals and done to reduce the negative effects of health behaviors without stopping the problematic health behaviors completely. However, elimination should be the primary goal.

Adding further, Dr Ganesh Mani, President, IMA, New Delhi branch; and Dr Chanchal Pal, President, Lions Club, Alaknanda, said, “Reducing harm to oneself and keeping others safe should be the priority for all vehicle owners. The best way to do this is to wear helmets and seat belts and also create awareness among friends and family members about the importance of this practice. We must all take a collective pledge to adopt harm reduction strategies in all aspects of our life.”

Some recommendations from the conference.

  • There should be zero tolerance for not wearing helmets and seat belts.
  • The government should be asked to bring in laws for mandatory cycle helmets, seat belts for back seat passengers, and seat belt for bus drivers.
  • Awareness should be created about quality of helmets.
  • Children < 5 years of age should not be allowed to sit in the front seat of a car. Car seats for children should be mandatory.
  • In the back seat of a car, the middle portion should always have a seat belt as the person seated there is most at risk.
  • The importance of helmets and seat belts should be taught in schools.
  • Children from schools in high risk areas should be made to wear helmets while crossing the roads

Harm Reduction

  • Preventing head injuries by wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of brain injury.
  • Helmets provide a 63 to 88 percent reduction in the risk of head, brain, and severe brain injuries and a 65 percent reduction of injuries to the upper and mid-face for bicyclists of all ages.
  • Helmets provide similar protection for crashes involving motor vehicles and other causes (70 percent). In children (<15 years of age), wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 63 percent and of loss of consciousness by 86 percent

Board of Governors proposes granting permission to medical colleges for lower sanctioned intake capacity

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It has generally been the practice that colleges found deficient in fulfilling the norms (such as faculty, no. of beds) as per prescribed regulations on inspection are disqualified and not allowed to admit any students. This holds true for both new as well as existing colleges.

But, now Board of Governors has proposed an amendment to the Health Ministry that if the college is not able to fulfil the required number of seats then it may still be allowed if it fulfils the requirement for less number of seats.

The notice is reproduced as below:

“No. MCI-34(41)/2018-Med./ In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 33 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (102 of 1956), the Medical Council of India with the previous sanction of the Central Government, hereby makes the following Regulations to further amend “The Opening of a New or Higher Course of Study or Training (including Postgraduate Course of Study or Training) and Increase of Admission Capacity in any Course of Study or Training (including a Postgraduate Course of Study or Training) Regulations, 2000.”

1.(i) These Regulations may be called the “The Opening of a New or Higher Course of Study or Training (including Postgraduate Course of Study or Training) and Increase of Admission Capacity in any Course of Study or Training (including a Postgraduate Course of Study or Training) Regulations, 2000.” (Amendment), 2019”.

(ii) These amendments shall be applicable for the applications received for the academic year 2019-20 onwards with retrospective effect in public interest and interest of no person shall be adversely affected by such retrospective effect.

  1. In Part –II [Scheme for permission of the Central Government to increase the Admission capacity in any course of study or training (including post graduate course of study or training) in the existing Medical Colleges/Institutions] – Clause 7 under the heading of “Grant of Permission”, the following shall be added after first paragraph as under:

The Board of Governors in super-session of Medical Council of India/Central Government on the recommendation of Medical Council of India may consider grant of permission for increase of seats or renewal of permission for increase of seats in the existing medical college to the lower sanctioned intake capacity, in the event of failure to meet the requirements prescribed in the Minimum Standard Requirement Regulations for the intake capacity for which the Medical College has applied. Such permission shall be granted only on the furnishing of an undertaking by the applicant that the grant of permission with reduced intake is acceptable, and shall be subject to following:

(a) The Medical College shall be entitled for increase in intake capacity for the next academic year shall be for the intake capacity for which it has been granted initial letter of permission for increased intake.”

Comments have been invited on the abovementioned proposed amendment till 15th February.

We welcome this proposal as it will open doors for many aspiring doctors in the country.

India is facing a shortage of doctors. The doctor-population ratio in India is 1:1596 (National Health Profile 2018) as against 1:1000 as prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which needs to be addressed. This probably may be one way by which this shortage can be sorted out.