February 06, 2011

Out-of-box solutions needed for remote areas

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad has called for “out of the box” solutions to reach out to remote areas so that health services can be provided there at the earliest.

Speaking at a two-day national conference of State Health Ministers and Health Secretaries here on Wednesday, Mr. Azad said that in many remote areas of hilly States, tribal pockets and northeastern States, access to health facilities continued to be a problem in view of the difficult terrain, geographical spread, and non-availability of human resources. “My Ministry has proposed a Bachelor of Rural Healthcare course as one of the solutions to improve availability of health personnel for these areas,” he added.

Mentioning that the Government of India had provided Rs.53,000 crore to the States under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) over the last six years, Mr. Azad said that a National Urban Health Mission was being formulated to take care of infrastructure needs.

The pace of decline in various key health indicators like Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality rate (IMR), Total fertility Rate, and death and morbidity due to communicable diseases had not improved as compared to the pre-NRHM period. Complimenting the governments of southern and western States for excellent performance, Mr. Azad said that in so far as central, eastern, northeastern and north Indian States were concerned, the time had come to closely look at the implementation of schemes, identify bottle-necks and improve performance.

Mr. Azad urged the States to take advantage of the reforms introduced in medical education and set up more medical colleges and increase the intake of students in post-MBBS and postgraduate courses. He said that depending on the success of the national programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke — being taken up in 100 most backward and remote districts in States during 2010-12 — it would be extended to all 650 districts in the country under the 12th Plan. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who inaugurated the conference, outlined various programmes being implemented, including the flagship Aarogyasri, under which Rs.3,000 crore was spent during the last three years.

The aim of the government was to bring down the MMR from the current 154 per thousand live births to 100 by 2012, Mr. Reddy said.

The meet will come out with a Hyderabad Action Plan on Thursday to focus on implementation in the remaining part of the 11th plan and provide a roadmap for the 12th plan.

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