Better convergence of Depts sought

Managing health care in M’laya

By Our Reporter

 Shillong: Lack of access and connectivity to the rural populace in the State has attributed to the rise in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) which stands at 55 per cent which is recorded as the highest in the North East, Commissioner and Secretary of Health DP Wahlang informed.

“The problem with health care in Meghalaya is linked to remoteness of villages which are widely scattered and difficult to access via road connectivity and this has contributed to the growing Maternal and Infant Mortality Rate (MMR) and (IMR),” Wahlang said.

Wahlang was addressing a seminar on Mental Health of Children organized by SANKER at Pine Wood Hotel here on Monday.

Quoting from statistics, Wahlang said in the State, the delivery per year is recorded to be over 70,000 of which about 12,000 deliveries are conducted at Ganesh Das Hospital. Roughly about 50 per cent of deliveries in the rural areas happen at home and the rest in medical institutions.

“50 per cent villages in the State have a total population of 200 and below and unsafe delivery can affect the mother’s as well as the infant’s health which contributes to the high IMR,” Wahlang rued.

The Commissioner and Secretary Health pointed that out of the State’s total population of over 29 lakhs, about 5 lakhs (18 per cent) are children which is recorded as the highest in the whole country and according to the 2011 census, the sex ratio is 986, a slight increase since 2001 which was 975.

Whereas, the sex ratio in rural areas is recorded at 983 and the child sex ratio (0-6) has increase to 970 in 2011 from 931 in 2001 which is 970 girls for 1000 boys.

Coming down heavily on the wrong location of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs) in the state, Wahlang said the availability of PHCs and CHCs in the state is satisfactory but as far as placement is concerned, there is a huge gap.

While informing that there are110 PHCs, Wahlang said 108 are functioning in the State which cater to almost 20 lakhs population.

“There is a need to create more PHCs and CHCs in the right places where the rural lot can also get access,” Wahlang reiterated.

Wahlang also stressed on immunization which he termed as the ‘biggest challenge’ for the state. “According to the statistics of 2011-12 the immunization of measles in the state is only 56 percent which is very low,” he added.

While stressing on strategies, the Commissioner and Secretary said “I believe in a Keep It Short and Simple (KISS) strategy.” He underlined the need for convergence with government departments and civil societies.

Wahlang reiterated that the PWD could look into the road connectivity aspect, Education Department could create mass awareness, Social Welfare could provide capacity building and PHE enough water while the local community takes ownership of programmes,” Wahlang reiterated.

Further, the Commissioner and Secretary informed that the Health Department would soon launch an intervention similar to 108 called the toll free ‘104 helpline’ which will provide health care to people who are in need of it immediately and who cannot access health care. “Professionals on the other side of the phone can provide advice,” he added.

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