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Rural Hospital Beds: Odisha at Bottom in Country

Notwithstanding last year’s budget announcement of launch of a new scheme Mukhyamantri Swasthya Seva Mission (MSSM) on lines of the National Health Mission (NHM) with a fat allocation Rs 760 crore for infrastructure development of health institutions (PHCs and CHCs) by then FM Pradip Amat, the reality check is strength of beds, a basic right for an admitted patient in a health center, has dipped in State’s health centers like PHCs and CHCs in 2017-18. And the irony is the Government hospitals in rural Odisha with fewer beds in rural health centers have topped the country, only hilly and some north-eastern States are behind Odisha. Sample this: The number of community health centers (CHC) having at least 30 beds in Odisha by the end of March 31, 2017 was around 60, but the number of CHCs with at least 30 beds declined to mere 46 as on March 31, 2018. Odisha has around 377 CHCs.

Similarly, when as of March end 2017, Odisha had around 37 PHCs with at least 4-beds, the numbers have dwindled to mere around 26 by March 31, 2018. In proportionate terms, now only 2 percent PHCs in Odisha have 4 beds vis-a-vis 3 percent in 2016-17 and only around 12 percent CHCs have at least 30 beds against 16 percent in 2016-17. For the dip, Odisha dubiously has topped the country with least number of beds in rural hospitals, as PHCs and CHCs cater to rural populace. Only north-eastern States like Mizoram, Manipur and hilly States like Himachal are behind Odisha in rural hospital beds. An analysis shows for a total of 1659 rural hospitals, Odisha now has only around 6400 beds, which then work out to less than 4 beds in each hospital. In contrast, the data with the Central Health Directorate shows that for a total of over 11,054 rural hospitals nationally, the total beds available stood at over 2.09 lakh, which then boils down to around 19 beds per hospital. Here too, a north-eastern State like Arunachal Pradesh piped Odisha as it has around 10 beds per rural hospital.

Moreover, the revelation is when hospitals in rural areas during the last 7 years have risen by around 50 in Odisha, the number of beds available has decreased by an eye-popping 29 percent. The result: Average population served per Government hospital bed in Odisha has slipped to around 2294 against 2711 in 2009. Notably, Odisha’s health policy seems festering yawning rural – urban divide as data reveals when for over 3.8 crore rural population, the average beds per rural Government hospitals were around 4. By contrast, for the 20 percent urban populace, average beds per urban Government hospitals stood at a whopping 92 in Odisha. This is so, when around 70 percent of admissions to hospitals were from rural areas. Significantly, expenditure by the State Government on health and family welfare during 2001-2017 has been on average around 4 percent per year of the annual aggregate expenditure for the period 2001 – 2017. In fiscal year of 2017-18, the health and family welfare expenditure has been pegged at 5 percent of total annual expenditure. – Daily Pioneer

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