The dengue platelet count test normally takes a minimum of 8 hours in most hospitals and pathology labs. At the Urgent Care clinic on New Delhi’s Vikas Marg which opened on 30 October, it takes less than half an hour.
Patiently waiting for medical care is something that is second nature to anyone who has had deal with India’s overburdened system. A new healthcare company called Aapka Urgicare, founded by Pervez Ahmed, former CEO of Max Healthcare, is planning to change that by establishing clinics which focus only on emergency care—pre-hospitalization treatment and stabilization of a patient.
Dr Ahmed says their next centre will be inaugurated in the first week of December, in New Delhi.
“We plan to open 30-34 centres in Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) in the next 20-24 months, and about 110 in north and east India in the next four years,” he says.
A typical Urgent Care centre will be a small hospital with 10 beds, open 24 hours. “Designed to operate like emergency trauma centres, these clinics will be equipped with the latest technology and will be outfitted to handle all kinds of medical emergencies,” says Anjum Ahmed, director of Urgent Care. “For critical patients, who require further intensive care once we have stabilized them, we will facilitate their smooth transfer to hospitals and nursing homes in the vicinity.”
Located in densely populated localities, the centres will also offer OPD clinics, preventive screening, basic diagnostics and vaccinations. So, whether one requires a nebulizer, IV fluids, stabilization of heart or lungs, casts for fractures, stitches, or treatment for acute allergies, these clinics will be equipped to attend to all pre-hospital emergency needs.
“According to me 70% of the people who walk into emergency rooms of hospitals do not require hospitalization, yet they have to pay for the fact that they are in a hospital,” says Dr Pervez Ahmed. “We are going to cut those costs by up to five times.”
One critical area where Urgent Care hopes to make a difference is in the treatment available to a patient in the “golden hour”, the first 60 minutes after a medical emergency, where the chances of survival are the highest. According to a 2006 report in the Indian Journal of Surgery, 80% of trauma and accident victims do not get help during the golden hour.
Smoking ’em out
More than 170 countries on Monday adopted what World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan called a “game-changing” global pact to combat the illegal tobacco trade. The treaty envisages an international tracking system which aims to halt the smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products—a trade which accounts for 11% of the total tobacco market.
“This is a game-changing treaty,” Chan said in an address to a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which has been ratified by 176 countries since coming into force in 2005. “This is how we hem in the enemy,” she added, calling the pact a major step towards “eliminating a very sophisticated criminal activity”.
The protocol gives signatory states five years to establish a tracking and tracing mechanism on cigarettes and every other tobacco product. The system will use non-removable markings and will be coordinated globally to detect illegal tobacco trading. Agents, suppliers and tobacco manufacturers will all have to be licensed.
In her address on Monday, Chan lambasted the tobacco industry for seeking to “maintain its profits and kill at the same time” and accused it of complicity in the illicit tobacco trade.
This pact marks a departure for the FCTC, whose main focus so far has been on curbing demand for tobacco products rather than controlling the supply chain.
The six-day FCTC meeting in the South Korean capital will also review guidelines on tax measures to reduce tobacco demand, recommendations on promoting alternatives to growing tobacco, and regulation of smokeless tobacco products like e-cigarettes. AFP
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