Maha-Gathbandhan For A Healthy State

In view of the constraints to provide health services to all, the Maharashtra government has joined hands with 14 non-government organisations (NGOs). The government and NGOs will work together to strengthen public health services, improve drug procurement and distribution system and better treatment of infants detected with cancer.

Speaking to DNA, a state health department official said, “The government has issued a notification in this regard on May 14. Some of the 14 NGOs include Tata Trust, Project Mumbai Charitable Trust, Tata Education and Development Trust, Indian Association for Paediatric Surgeon, Vision India, Spine Foundation and Institute for Psychological Health.” These NGOs are working in the field of health sector covering geriatric care, cancer, diabetes, heart ailment, paralysis. They also provide legal advice on the implementation of the Mental Health Act and strengthening of state mental health programme.

These NGOs will provide health services especially to the mentally disabled patients in the state and give training to rural health personnel for the development of spine care system at Ratnagiri and Nandurbar district hospitals. These NGOs will submit a quarterly report to the government.

The officer admitted that there is a huge gap in the doctor-patient ratio despite 50 medical colleges across the state. While expenditure on per capita public health in the state is only Rs 1,001, the national average is Rs 1,560. He hoped that with the active engagement of NGOs there will be an improvement in the health care system.

Welcoming the move, former secretary of Indian Medical Association (Maharashtra State) Dr Parthiv Sanghvi said, “This would increase the primary health care infrastructure and the reach of basic health care to one and all (including the extremely poor and downtrodden). However, the rider is whichever branch of medicine the NGOs and government target, should be encompassing proper medical expertise in terms of manpower and equipment,”

A pune-based network of NGOs Jan Arogya Abhiyan (JAA) in its recent survey had observed that around 34.4 per cent of rural hospitals had no provisions for medicines. While 29.4 per cent of them had medicine supply, it was inadequate to match the demand. Only 20.7 per cent had a sufficient and steady supply of medicines.

There is a huge network of 1,816 primary health centres, 400 rural hospitals, 76 sub-district hospitals and 26 civil hospitals in the state. However, JAA in its survey said that this huge infrastructure was rendered useless because of inefficient management, lack of manpower and shortage of medicines.

Indian Pharmaceutical Association vice president Manjiri Gharat admitted that the partnership between the government and NGOs has a potential to increase the outreach but this partnership needs to be result oriented. “There should be a consistency in delivery which can strengthen the health care system. However, the government should engage the pharmacists in more public health activities as they are the missing link. Their untapped potential will have to be utilised,” she opined. – DNA India

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