Ailments of Rural Healthcare
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Editorial

Ailments of Rural Healthcare

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Jan 15, 2023 10:38 pm
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Even after the launch of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) way back in April 2005, rural India still remains devoid of quality healthcare services as there is almost 80 per cent shortage of specialist medical practitioners in community health centers (CHC). When the said mission was envisaged, it was decided that at least four specialist doctors namely a surgeon, physician, obstetrician/synecologist and paediatrician, should be made available at all CHCs to treat the rural population. But in reality, out of 21,920 sanctioned posts for specialist doctors, 17,435 posts are lying vacant at present belittling the very purpose of the mission. Clearly, these vacant posts should be filled at the earliest to make medical facilities available for people living in the villages as in the absence of quality health services villagers are left with no option but to travel to nearby cities and towns for treatment. This practice is not only putting unwanted burden on urban healthcare facilities, but also forcing villagers to spend more for treating even a minor ailment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely exposed how ill-equipped we are to handle any medical emergency. Shortages of medical practitioners, ISUs, medicines and medical Oxygen, all came to the fore. It should not be forgotten that despite a very successful vaccination programme, we had to pay a heavy price for such deficiencies while combating the pandemic as thousands of precious lives were lost. Such a huge loss could have been prevented to a great extent if we had proper and quality medical facilities all over the country. To prevent any such future loss, the country should take concrete steps without any further delay. In achieving the goal, the first step should be appointing qualified medical practitioners to all CHCs, along with adequate para-medical staff, so that no patient returns without getting proper treatment. As human resource is the most valuable asset of any nation, such facilities should be made available for every citizen of the country. Low mortality rate is a must to ensure progress.

In this context, an often repeated excuse is that medical graduates are not willing to go to rural India and in the process is widening the gap between sanctioned posts and actual recruitments. Only 935 specialist doctors have been recruited at the rural health centers in the last 17 years. The figure is dismal to say the least and should not be allowed to continue any longer. Many have suggested that a ‘bond policy’, making it mandatory for medical graduates to serve in village health centre for a certain period, should be strictly implemented. But there is a strong opposition against this idea as forcing a doctor to stay in a village is meaningless if adequate facilities are not available. Apart from paramedical staff, necessary modern equipment too should be made available in CHCs to treat the rural people. Thus, to have a fully functional rural healthcare system, a variety of medical facilities and qualified healthcare workers should be made available all over the country to make India healthier. The onus is on the government to establish and equip such facilities and doctors to provide their services to the people of rural India

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Jan 15, 2023 10:38:44 pm