Premature deaths as high as 65% in Andhra Pradesh

The expert committee on healthcare made as many as 100 recommendations. Dr Sujatha Rao, panel head, explains what ails the State and what could be done
Dr Sujatha Rao, head of the panel constituted to study and recommend measures for improving healthcare in the State (Photo |EPS)
Dr Sujatha Rao, head of the panel constituted to study and recommend measures for improving healthcare in the State (Photo |EPS)


What is your assessment of healthcare in the State?

Till now, focus has been on Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). In the last 20 years, there have been many changes in the healthcare system. Private hospitals are going ahead with specialty services while government hospitals are concentrating on basic services. People are suffering more due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). In the State, only 27 per cent of cases are communicable, 59.7 per cent NCDs and 13.3 per cent injuries. 65 per cent die prematurely. A number of people are suffering from hypertension (22 per cent, which is much higher than the country average of 12 per cent), diabetes and other chronic diseases. So all these services have to be improved in government hospitals.

What are your major recommendations other than banning private practice by government doctors?

Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and sub-centres in rural areas are not serving the purpose. As the government is setting up village secretariats, we recommended that it open village clinics, like in Thailand, with volunteer doctors and medical practitioners. First-aid and life-saving services can be provided in village clinics. Even ASHA workers can be allotted to these clinics after training them. The panel also suggested the appointment of at least three doctors in each PHC to cover 30,000 population and each doctor is given responsibility to cover 2,000 families. 104 services can also be integrated with PHCs.

What are the committee’s observations on women’s health and services available to them?

A majority of women approach private hospitals not just for deliveries, but also for other illnesses. We recommended 300 women’s health centres, each with a 500-bed capacity. From deliveries and breast cancer to cervical cancer, any kind of health issue should be addressed in these centres. The government can identify existing hospitals and upgrade them into women’s health centres.

What is your take on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in health sector?

As on date, there are 22 PPPs related to the health sector in the State. Most of them are not serving any purpose.  We have reviewed nine in-depth and recommended that they be scrapped... or six could be re-negotiated.

Why ban on private practice by govt doctors?

We observed that a number of doctors are neglecting duties in government health sector. They are just turning up for attendance and drawing salary and spending most of their time in their private clinics. The committee recommended that their their pay be hiked on par with private doctors and incentives and allowances also be paid to them. With this, government hospitals in the State will be strengthened and quality of service will improve.

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The New Indian Express