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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

The Journals have a Bigger Role to Play in the Health Care Delivery

Author(s): Chandra Kant Lahariya

Vol. 31, No. 3 (2006-07 - 2006-09)

Chandra Kant Lahariya*

A few articles appeared in ‘The Lancet’ recently, are quiet interesting and noteworthy, as these articles make us think that, how a medical journal of repute can make big difference in the health priorities and health policies of a country or world, if it focuses on pertinent issues, in timely manner? The first article is in its July 3, 2004 issue1. The cover loudly announces, “The lesson: even in the world’s richest country, the right price of a condom is zero”. When a message likes this one: clear, straightforward and loud, appears on the front cover of a leading scientific journal, there is not even an iota of chance that anybody would fail to notice it. This kind of message generates interest in the topic and curiosity about the logic, not to mention, immediate beginning of the discussion amongst doctors/health personnels and policy makers also. In the same issue, just one page article, so beautifully written, utterly convincing with rock solid reasoning that once you finish reading it, you feel like: yes, condoms should be distributed free of the cost to prevent AIDS/STDs and that will contain population explosion too.

Second article is the editorial in ‘The Lancet’, Dec 4, 20042 This time it takes on deworming, a very simple method of controlling worm infestation, even in India with whatever health facility we have, we are providing Albendazole/ Mebendazole to a big chunk of population. Here, it has taken clue from a meeting of WHO’s ‘The partners of parasite control’. ‘The Lancet’ argues that, by successfully implementing deworming treatment, we can achieve 7 out of 8 millennium development goals (MDG), and that it has been explained so convincingly that immediately we feel the urge to go out and treat all the possible cases of worm infestation, whether affecting children or adults. (On the cover message; “Thinking beyond deworming is essential for the health of the world’s poorest people”2, is characteristic of ‘The Lancet’). Now, more than ever, experts believe that journal is a medium for lot more than simply publishing scientific/research studies. If a journal addresses a simple but common health issue with conviction and scientific rationale (obviously) then it leads to a debate/discussion amongst medical fraternity and policy makers. That way, at a point of time, everybody has an opinion about it, be Condom or Deworming and the process might change the lives of million people, if words are transformed into action. This would be the impact of a journal, provided, the topic is properly treated by it.

Coming home, editorial of the April-June 2005 issue of Indian Journal of Community Medicine3, has highlighted the vastness of the Community Medicine as a subject and emphasize the urgent need of the sub specialties in it. It’s a wonderful proposal/suggestion, well written and timely published

Similar is the case in Indian Paediatrics, March 2005 issue4. It has debated in its editorial a sensitive issue of breast-feeding and Infant Milk Substitute Act (IMS Act). The recent talks about repealing the IMS act is well protested by the editors and meant to mobilize the opinion of the doctors all over the country. Although, it would have been better, if it was more strongly presented. Still, It’s enough that this issue has been brought to public consciousness.

In India; there is no dearth of medical journals and if all these journals take a topic of public health importance such as immunization, breast feeding, family planning, Measles eradication, Health delivery, PHC set up etc., if not in every issue, every now and then and delve into the topic deeply, place it so properly and in the scientific manner that everybody is compelled to read it. This whole would be like starting national dialogue amongst doctors on the most pertinent issue every month. What else a country need? And that way, journal would be affecting the lives of more number of people then ever.

One topic per issue, well debated logical and on current issue is quiet possible. It is possible without need of any extra resource and yes; it might be the most cost effective health measure e er. Why not, give it a try?


  1. Cohen AC, Farley TA. Social marketing of condoms is great, but we need more free condoms. Lancet 2004; 364(9428): 13.
  2. Anonymous (editorial): Thinking beyond deworming. Lancet 2004; 364(9450): 1993-94.
  3. Kumar R. Development of Community Medicine subspecialties. Indian Journal of Community Medicine. 2005; 30(2): 43.
  4. Choudhury P, Gupta A. Protecting IMS act: Balancing trade interests and child health. Indian Paediatr 2005; 42: 211-213.
*Deptt. of Community Medicine, Lady Hardinge Medical College,
New Delhi-110001.
E-mail: [email protected]
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