Guwahati to see several new health initiatives in 2018
• Several new health initiatives in pipeline for Kamrup (Metro) district
• Health and wellness centres to be established in the city and across the state
• Free essential drug and diagnostic service in every district
• Strengthening of ongoing TB prevention programme
• Optimizing number of doctors and nurses in different health facilities
• Recruitment of medical staff under NHM
• Increasing number of FRUs
• Strengthening district hospitals and conducting trainings
The state health and family welfare department has planned to introduce a number of new health initiatives during this year apart from strengthening the pre-existing services in the Kamrup (Metro) district as well as the state, according to officials.
One of the most important priority areas of the state health and family welfare department is the establishment of the health and wellness centres in the city and across the state.
Under this initiative, the basic services of the health sub centres will be extended to provide “comprehensive primary health services in the district.” This will include maternal and child health services along with other diagnostic services, said an official.
For this, community health officers (CHOs) will be engaged in these health and wellness centres. The health and family welfare department under the National Health Mission (NHM) has targeted to establish 562 such centres all over the state by the end of this year.
Nilim Borah, Consultant (Planning) at NHM Assam, said that a proposal has already been sent to the central government for the same.
He further added that they are also laying emphasis on providing free essential drugs and diagnostic services in every district including X-ray service, CT scan and free laboratory services.
Under free essential services, prevention and screening of non-communicable diseases for citizens above 30 years of age will also be included from this year onwards. This programme was carried out in five districts as a pilot project in 2017 including Kamrup (Rural), Barpeta, Nagaon, Jorhat and Dibrugarh. It will now be extended to other districts in 2018.
Additionally, authorities have planned to strengthen the ongoing Tuberculosis (TB) prevention programme in each district with nutritional support for TB patients, who will now receive some financial assistance to meet their nutritional needs.
Optimizing the number of doctors and nurses in different health facilities
In order to meet the requirement of doctors and other health officials in Kamrup (Metro) and other districts, the department has decided to rationalize the number of doctors and paramedical staff.
“In a number of hospitals and health sub centres, we find that there is a shortage of doctors and nurses whereas in some places they are in excess. We are taking steps to rationalize their strength and bring in doctors where there is a shortage,” said an official of the health and family welfare department.
The state has been reeling under acute shortage of doctors for a long time especially in remote and hilly areas as doctors are reluctant to get posted in such areas.
Apart from rationalizing the manpower, the NHM will also recruit close to 2,000 health professionals in Assam this year. There are a total of 22,000 sanctioned posts in NHM.
“We are also looking at outsourcing the recruitment works to an outside agency. This is also under process,” said an NHM official.
With a view to boost the district-level health services, the department is also planning to make more first referral units (FRUs) operational in the state.
FRUs need to have a complete range of doctors and other health professionals in order to perform surgeries. These include gynaecologists, paediatricians, and anaesthesia specialists among others.
According to authorities, there are currently 60 FRUs which are operational in different districts.
In terms of preventive measures, the officials said that they have targeted to improve the coverage under routine immunization. At present, the immunization coverage is 92 percent and the government hopes to cover all children so that no child is left out under their immunization drive.
Strengthening of district hospitals, converting them into training hubs
In order to improve the quality of care at government health institutes, the state government has now planned to impart training to different health officials in district hospitals.
“Apart from providing the regular services, the district hospitals will now also conduct trainings for auxiliary nurse midwifery (ANM), general nursing and midwifery (GNM) and for technicians for lab services,” said an NHM official.
These trainings will first be started as a pilot project in six districts including Kamrup (Metro) and will then be implemented all over the state.
Additionally, construction of new district hospitals is also in the pipeline for this year in places like Sonari, Majuli and Hojai.
On the other hand, with regards to maintenance of biomedical equipment, the state government has already started conducting a survey with the help of an agency to assess the functioning of equipments in different hospitals.
“In government hospitals and medical colleges, we often find that several machines become defunct and lie unused due to lack of proper maintenance. If the survey team finds any non-functional machines during assessments, the technicians will repair it on the spot.”
Further, the authorities also plan to bring in a new fleet of 250 emergency 108 Mrityunjay ambulances by the end of 2018 in order to replace the old and worn out vehicles.
New mobile medical units will also be introduced especially for tea garden areas. As per a survey conducted by the authorities, 130 such areas were found to be lacking proper medical facilities, said an official.