India’s top health research agency Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has started publishing the first-ever standardized treatment protocol for over 100 diseases. The guidance document will contain the ideal, cost-effective and rational ways to diagnose and treat over 100 illnesses in an effort to promote uniform standards of care and discourage practices unsupported by evidence.

The protocols will also apply to the newly-launched Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana that aims to provide secondary and tertiary care hospitalization services worth up to 5 lakh to over 50 crore people. The ICMR and the Union health ministry’s department of health research have established 27 panels of experts with doctors from medical colleges, government and private hospitals, and professional medical bodies, and tasked them with generating the STWs.

Sources in the Indian Council for Medical Research said a one-page flow guide on treatment protocols of seven diseases, including severe pneumonia in children, cataract, gastrointestinal bleeding, and cardiac failure, was already prepared. Several others are also being finalized.“We plan to prepare 100 such standardized protocols by January 26 next year. It will also be released publicly,” a senior ICMR official said.“The move is targeted at doctors for educating them on what is the best way of treating a patient for a specific disease, and for also telling patients on what to expect.”

Other officials in the health research agency said  27 expert committees comprising ICMR authorities, functionaries from various national health institutes, senior members of specialty medical associations and domain experts were formed for the purpose.

“In many cases, even though many doctors know what is best and ideal way to treat a disease, they still deviate for various reasons. So, we thought it will be good to keep in place a thoroughly devised protocol for everyone to follow,” said another official.

In December last year, the Indian Medical Association, along with the Indian Association of Paediatrics, had released advisory to hospitals and doctors for managing premature babies after a controversy involving a private hospital in Delhi where a premature baby was erroneously declared dead by doctors.The guidelines were to educate parents on what to expect when babies are born before due date.
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