THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the state facing serious challenges on the healthcare front and witnessing the emergence and re-emergence of several diseases, the LDF Government is planning to draw up a comprehensive healthcare policy, with special emphasis on the present and future challenges facing the state’s public health sector.
‘’Kerala has achieved good health indicators and has better living conditions and literacy(compared to the other states). However, there is an alarming rise in the number of several life threatening diseases. More and more people are falling sick. We need a comprehensive healthcare policy, which is under the active consideration of the government,’’ Health Minister K K Shylaja told Express.
Nonetheless, the Health Minister made it abundantly clear that instead of increasing the number of medical colleges, the major goal of the LDF Government’s proposed healthcare policy-- which would focus on primary healthcare-- was to provide quality and affordable healthcare to all sections of society.
‘’I am not saying that medical colleges are not needed. But these institutions should be set up after ensuring that all facilities have been made available. On the previous government’s proposed medical colleges, at least one for each district, a detailed study has to be carried out to see if they are actually needed. We have to see which all institutions should be retained,’’ she said.
According to K K Shylaja, the CPM-led Government’s policy was aimed at developing the Public Health Centres(PHC), Community Health Centres(CHC), Taluk, District and General Hospitals so that the people could avail better healthcare facilities, adding, it had figured in the LDF manifesto.
On the urgent issue of filling up the shortage of doctors in the Medical Colleges and Department of Health Services(DHS), the Health Minister said, ‘’There could well be a crisis since many of the government doctors had retired last month(April) and many more are due to superannuate this month. We are trying to find out whether the vacancies can be filled through appointments from the promotion list. But there are indications that it will not suffice.”
“The PSC list is also there. We will take all these lists into consideration and try to fill up the vacancies at the earliest. In the event of the vacancies still persisting, we are planning to rope in retired government doctors. But this will only be done after consulting the Chief Minister and the others concerned,’’ she added.
Minimising out-of-pocket expenditure in public healthcare is another key area that the government is concentrating on. And the minister was of the opinion that the government funding should be increased so that the people received healthcare free of cost.
‘’The Central funds for the sector have been slashed. We will try and increase the allocation for the health sector within the limits of the state’s current financial position,’’ she said.
Further, K K Shylaja vowed to make the functioning of Kerala Medical Service Corporation Limited (KMSCL) more transparent. ‘’There is a general feeling that something is wrong in KMSCL. I am going to have a discussion with KMSCL authorities,’’ she said.
The Health Minister also said Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Siddha and Unani will be accorded equal importance and treated at par with Allopathy, adding, the government will provide all the facilities and the people can take their pick.
Highlights of the new policy
*A comprehensivee healthcare policy to be formulated focusing on state’s present and future health challenges.
*Though Kerala achieved good health indicators, there is an alarming increase of many life threatening diseases
*Government’s policy was not to increase the number of medical colleges but to provide healthcare accessible to all people
*Faculty shortage to be addressed at the earliest
*Govt to increase funding in healthcare sector within the limits of the present financial position of the state,