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Embracing integrity and innovation in healthcare sector

In 1978, the International Conference on Primary Health Care in Alma-Ata declared health to be a fundamental human right and urged governments and the international community to take immediate and effective action to address health disparities and ensure access to essential health services for all individuals and communities. Proclaiming the goal of health for all by the year 2000, the role of primary healthcare was highlighted as critical to achieving this goal.

The country has made significant progress in reducing maternal and infant mortality by focusing on improving access to healthcare and raising community awareness through initiatives such as the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY). Expanding health insurance coverage, Ayushman Bharat is a boost for economically vulnerable backgrounds.

The State of Jharkhand reflects a blend of traditional tribal cultures with significant rural population. According to the Registrar General of India’s Special Bulletin on MMR for 2018–2020, the recorded maternal mortality ratio in the country is 97, while in the state it is 56. National Family Health Survey-5 (2019–20) recorded that around 57 percent of pregnant women received at least four antenatal care visits and 68 percent of births in the state take place in a health facility under skilled care, in the state of Jharkhand, indicating progress but also highlighting the need for further improvement.

Despite improvements in MCH indicators and ongoing efforts to improve social indicators and quality of life for its residents, healthcare utilization rates vary across rural India. The state’s rural population experiences similar patterns of healthcare utilization and outcomes, with disparities in access and quality of care contributing to health inequities, in addition to challenges, such as tribal health disparities, infrastructure constraints in hilly regions, and the need for culturally sensitive healthcare interventions.

The challenges in providing a better healthcare system for the majority of populace, especially the rural, poor, and downtrodden families include a significant shortage of competent medical professionals, lack of poor infrastructure ranging from health infrastructure and operations, shortage and non availability of blood for emergency obstetric care, and patient access to healthcare due to financial and geographical constraints. Geographical barriers, such as rugged terrain and dispersed populations, makes it difficult to deliver healthcare services, especially in tribal and hilly areas. Inadequate transportation infrastructure further hinders timely access to healthcare facilities, especially during emergencies. Healthcare professionals’ attitudes and outlooks do not reflect a culture of accountability, empathy, or patient-centered care. Strict ethical guidelines and regulatory standards for medical practice must be strengthened to prevent malpractice. The lack of generic drugs and affordable diagnostics exacerbates the problems faced by the majority of the poor population. Most importantly, a lack of investment and interest in research and development contributes to the healthcare system’s inability to handle public health emergencies.

PM-ABHIM, which prioritizes infrastructure development, has come as a boon to healthcare by constructing well-equipped hospitals and clinics at panchayat, block, and district levels, ensuring uninterrupted power supply, improving internet connectivity for telemedicine and healthcare information systems, better diagnostic facilities, and improving road connectivity for ambulance services. The Ayushman Bharat Health Insurance Scheme, which covers more than 89 percent of the state’s population, provides a defined benefit cover of up to ₹5 lakh per family per year for hospitalization expenses. Five new medical colleges in public and private sector have been set up, along with many nursing, paramedical, and pharmacy institutions, to increase the availability of trained medical professionals and improve access to healthcare services, especially in rural and remote regions. Regular training programs and workshops to improve the attitude, professionalism, and service delivery of government health professionals are ensured to foster a culture of accountability, empathy, and patient-centered care. Ayushman Bharat has implemented telemedicine as a hub-and-spoke model across all health and wellness centers to improve access to specialist consultations and healthcare services in remote areas.

In the realm of healthcare, where every action has a profound impact on human lives, the need for an honest and committed approach with a service spirit cannot be overstated. It is not merely a professional obligation but a moral imperative that defines the essence of healthcare delivery. As we work through the complexities of healthcare systems, several key initiatives emerge as critical pillars for transformative change. A mandatory roster system for posting government medical professionals based on need and demand, as well as close monitoring of their performance, has the potential to improve healthcare accessibility and bridge the gap between urban and rural healthcare facilities. The public-private partnership (PPP) approach can revolutionize medical services with respect to treatment, nursing and healthcare, diagnostic services, transparent pricing mechanisms in private labs, regulatory oversight, and quality of medical life support systems. There is a need to aggressively promote and raise awareness about adopting a healthier lifestyle or improving one’s current lifestyle by incorporating yoga and other organic lifestyle practices. The entire society must be involved in raising awareness and health consciousness to promote proactive health care, as prevention is preferable to cure. 

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