Report by India Education bureau, New Delhi: The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad chaired a Meeting of State Health Ministers and senior health officials in New Delhi today. Minister of State for Health, Shri Gandhiselvan, Health Ministers from 22 States and senior officials from States and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are attending the two-day review meeting.
Addressing the participants, Shri Azad said that the 12th Plan sets a goal of moving towards universal healthcare to provide quality healthcare to people living even in the remotest part of the country. He noted that the 12th Plan accords priority to health sector and substantial increase in the allocation during the 12th Plan is envisaged. However Shri Azad cautioned that concerns have been expressed about the capacity of the State Governments to utilize the available resources. “The implementation of schemes rests with the States and UTs. Therefore, it is essential for all States/UTs to build their capacity to timely utilize the available funds. I would strongly urge all the State Health Ministers and State Secretaries to closely monitor the financial progress and utilize the funds effectively and expeditiously” Shri Azad emphasized.
The Minister noted that over the last seven years since NRHM was launched, substantial progress has been made in several areas like Creation of new health infrastructure; Strengthening/upgradation of existing facilities; Addition of nearly 1.6 lakh human resources that include doctors, specialists, nurses, ANMs, para-medic etc; Improvement in the quality of healthcare at public health facilities; Improving the referral transport and out-reach services through Mobile Medical Units as also Substantial increase in Institutional delivery which in turn has resulted in decline of the IMR & MMR.
Notwithstanding the achievements, Shri Azad said there are several areas of concern that need attention. The slow pace of works to create Health infrastructure is a major area of concern. Irrational deployment of doctors is another reason affecting functionality of the units. He highlighted the large number of vacancies in high focus districts which have relatively poor health indicators. The Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram has not been fully operationalized by the States resulting in several gaps. More efforts are necessary to ensure updating of information and in monitoring actual service delivery by effective use of data in Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS).
Performance is far from satisfactory for Non-Communicable Diseases, he lamented. “Facilities need to be strengthened for Jannai Suraksha Yojana and JSSK. It is important that the sanctioned works are executed in a time bound manner and availability of trained staff ensured. The State Governments would need to integrate all modes of patient transport into a proper network to ensure that services reach intended beneficiaries. We must work very hard to achieve the MDG goal of infant mortality below 30. We need to strengthen the capacity of both laboratory testing and treatment facility for MDR TB in each State particularly in districts with low detection and cure rates”, Shri Azad said. He requested State Health Ministers to give special attention so that the spread of JE/AES is not only contained but is tackled effectively. Even for containing Dengue, Shri Azad called for multi sectoral intervention and special efforts from the Health Ministers to prevail upon the Panchayati Raj Institutions, Urban local bodies and Department of Education etc. for coordinated action to tackle the problem.
For new initiatives during the 12th Plan, Shri Azad called for particularly provisioning of services in the remotest and inaccessible areas and to strengthen the identified Sub-Centres which are the first port of call for the community. “The District Hospitals must become strong hubs for secondary care. We plan to strengthen the District Hospitals to provide advance secondary and multi-speciality healthcare” Shri Azad said. Shri Azad urged the States to identify the existing gaps and formulate proposals for strengthening of District Hospitals. “We propose to introduce universal screening for all children for disease, disability and deficiency which should be followed up by free treatment where required’ Shri Azad added. This program aims to cover approximately 14 crore children throughout the country. “We propose to ensure availability of free generic medicines to everyone coming to a government health facility. A time bound action plan is necessary to ensure availability of free drugs at Public health facilities at the earliest”. The HFM also elaborated that we are also in the process of launching a urban health initiative to address health concerns of urban poor specially those living in the urban slums. This will cover all the towns and cities above 50,000 population, while the rest of the country is being covered under NRHM. For this augmentation of capacity to build the infrastructure in a time bound manner; Capacity to recruit human resources quickly; Set up a robust procurement process to ensure timely supply of equipments, drugs etc.; Strengthen the programme management and Improve monitoring/implementation of the programmes would be necessary, Shri Azad said.
The two-day meeting would deliberate on review of health programmes under NRHM; discussion on regulatory issues as also Medical education and Medical human resources concerns.