KOCHI: Better accessibility, a shorter waiting time, better staff and work attitude on the part of doctors and nurses, and better facilities mean people prefer small private clinics to government PHCs and CHCs, suggested a new study.
Small private clinics, especially in rural areas, have contributed immensely to the health sector in the state. By turning primary health centres (PHC) and community health centres into family health centres, the government, the Ardram project, is essentially reviving an old model, albeit in the public sector, according to the study.
“We learnt from our interactions with stakeholders and from verifying data that 75 per cent of the population in Kerala goes to private medical institutions for treatment. Three-fourths of people rely on small clinics, nursing homes and hospitals. These play a major role, especially in rural areas,” said Sara John, senior project associate, CPPR, who led the research.
There has been a decrease in the number of private allopathic hospitals by 24.6 per cent from 1984 to 2004. However, the average number of beds per hospital increased from 26 to 41 during the period.
The trend in the rise of super speciality hospitals at the cost of small hospitals and clinics put a question mark on the future of accessible and affordable health care for the common man.
Nowadays, people pick corporate hospitals, which has been identified as a detrimental factor in providing affordable health care. In this scenario, the Ardram project holds out hope for the public. They are essentially following the old pattern of private clinics where a doctor knew a patient’s history and the referral method was still opted for.
“The demand for better health care is increasing. And small clinics bridge the gap in providing accessible and basic health care,” said Sara.
According to the study, the recent wage hike for nurses and non-nursing staff might also be a blow to these institutions. “A majority of small clinics in rural areas are run by individual doctors, except those run by medical missions. Considering the variations in the occupancy rate in hospitals, there could be drastic changes in the profit of small hospitals with less than 50 beds and this decrease will, in turn, decrease the possibilities of improving the quality and facilities of healthcare facilities here,” noted the study.
■ PHC is not always accessible
■ Non-availability of good medicines
■ Long waiting time
■ Attitude of staff in PHCs is difficult
■ PHCs does not provide timely help
■ PHCs not preferred for major treatments