Virtual psychiatrist is effective in diagnosing mental disorders: study

Dinesh C Sharma

New Delhi, December 26 (India Science Wire): India has severe shortage of psychiatrists, as a result of which mental illness in rural areas either remains undiagnosed or does not get proper treatment. A ‘virtual psychiatrist’ tool developed by Indian researchers can help address this problem. It has been found that it can be used by non-psychiatrists and is as effective as diagnosis by specialists.

The tool called clinical decision support system (CDSS) for diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders was developed at the Department of Psychiatry of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. It has been field tested in remote villages in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir.

The study evaluated diagnostic accuracy and reliability of the application at remote sites when used by non-psychiatrists with just a brief training in its use. The knowledge-based, logical diagnostic tool showed ‘acceptable’ to ‘good’ validity and reliability when used by non-specialists. The diagnosis done by non-psychiatrists was compared with that done by specialists.

“Our findings show that diagnostic tool of the telepsychiatry application has potential to empower non-psychiatrist doctors and paramedics to diagnose psychiatric disorders accurately and reliably in remote sites,” researchers have said in the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR)

A total 18 commonly seen mental disorders are covered in the tool – delirium, dementia, mania, depression, dysthymia, psychosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorder, somato form disorder, dissociative disorder, neurasthenia, sexual dysfunctions, alcohol dependence, substance dependence and mental retardation.

Dr. Savita Malhotra

“Mental health care is mostly unavailable or inaccessible in most parts of the country. About 90% patients in need of psychiatric treatment do not get it due to lack of psychiatrists. Our system fills that gap by creating a virtual psychiatrist,” Dr Savita Malhotra, who led the research team, told India Science Wire.

The expert system can assist a non-medical person to interview a patient with mental disorders leading to an automated diagnosis, she explained. It can also assist a general physician to treat mental disorders in remote areas where there is no mental health care. The ICT technology used is very simple – a computer, broadband internet, Skype and a telephone line. The application software online and can be accessed by authorised users through password.

The researchers hope to disseminate the tool in the country. “We have written to the central government and state governments to adopt the system. It can be deployed at multiple sites or centers at once and has the potential to quickly solve the problem of deficient mental health care in the country,” said Dr Malhotra.  It has also been planned to upscale the system and create mobile platforms so that patients can access services from their homes.

“Telepsychiatry holds the potential to solve the massive and intertwined problems of underdiagnosing and undertreating persons with mental illness and the lack of trained workforce at grassroots level. Furthermore, initiatives must be taken to set up procedural guidelines and recommendations as the field advances,” noted psychiatry experts in a commentary published in the same issue of IJMR.

The research team included Savita Malhotra Subho Chakrabarti, Ruchita Shah, Minali Sharma, Kanu Priya Sharma, Akanksha Malhotra, (PGIMER, Chandigarh); Suneet K. Upadhyaya (Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Base Hospital, Srinagar, Uttarakhand); Mushtaq A. Margoob, Dar Maqbool (Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir) and Gopal D. Jassal (Regional Hospital, Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh). The research was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). (India Science Wire)

2017: Narendra Modi’s tributes to former Prime Ministers of India

Newsroom24x7 Network

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (23 December 2017) paid tributes to former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, on his birth anniversary.

Remembering Chaudhary Charan Singh on his birth anniversary, Modi said in a statement:

“Chaudhary Sahab served the nation with utmost dedication. He worked assiduously for the development of our villages and always championed the rights of our farmers.”

Paying tributes to first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on his birth anniversary on 14 November 2017, Modi said in a statement:

“Tributes to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary”

On former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary on 19 November this year, Modi said:

“Tributes to former PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary.”

On Lal Bahadur Shastri’s birth anniversary (2 October this year) Modi remembered him by observing:

“जवानों एवं किसानों के प्रणेता एवं देश को कुशल नेतृत्व प्रदान करने वाले शास्त्री जी को नमन!”
(I salute Shastri ji, who successfully led the country and motivated the soldiers and farmers).

Iraq’s liberation from Daesh: Australia’s strike aircraft will begin returning home in January

Newsroom24x7 Network

Canberra: Australia’s six F/A-18F Super Hornets will return home in January marking the end of Australia’s successful air strike operations in Iraq and Syria.

Australian Minister for Defence, Marise Payne

Australia’s Minister for Defence, Marise Payne, said Australia had reviewed our contribution with our Iraqi and Coalition partners following the announcement of Iraq’s liberation from Daesh by Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi earlier this month.

“The battlefield success against Daesh means our own Operation OKRA has now reached a natural transition point and our strike aircraft will begin returning home early in the New Year,” Minister Payne said.

“Since October 2014, our Hornet pilots and support personnel have made a significant contribution in support of the Iraqi Security Forces and I commend all the ADF personnel who have contributed over this period for their dedication, skill and professionalism.”

“Australia’s Air Task Group has made a valued contribution to coalition operations against Daesh that is highly regarded by the US, Iraq and coalition partners.”

The strike aircraft deployed as part of the Air Task Group conducted more than 2,700 sorties against Daesh targets in both Iraq and eastern Syria.

Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail and KC-30A refuelling aircraft will continue to support counter-Daesh coalition operations. Australia will also continue its training mission, which involves around 300 personnel at Task Group Taji and around 80 personnel in a Special Operations Task Group.

“Australia is committed to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces as it clears the remaining pockets of Daesh fighters in rural areas and ensuring the long-term stability of Iraq,” Minister Payne said.

Raja, Kanimozhi and others acquitted in 2G scam case

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: What is being described by different sections of people as a scathing censure of the CBI is the verdict of the Special CBI Court acquitting former Union telecom minister A Raja and M Kanimozhi of the DMK, who were among 17 people charged and tried in the infamous 2G scam case.

Delivering the verdict, Special CBI Court judge OP Saini told a packed courtroom today: “I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that prosecution has miserably failed to prove any charge against any of the accused, made in its well-choreographed charge-sheet.”

Special CBI Court has said there was no evidence available against the accused. The court order says: "some people created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels.”

According to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), the 2G scam, said to be one of the biggest corruption scandals that rocked the previous UPA government led by Manmohan Singh, had led to a revenue loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the Indian Government. The allegation was that there was conspiracy and corruption in high places and telecom permits were allotted much below market price.