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Health services in need of a booster shot

Times of India, 01 March, 2012

Health Services In Need Of A Booster Shot


PANAJI: Goa prides itself as the state with the best health indicators. However, wounds in the state's health care system were exposed when a three-member team of commissioners, appointed by the high court of Bombay at Goa, visited the Goa Medical College (GMC) and two district hospitals and submitted a scathing report in 2008.
In their findings the commissioners noted that a large number of vacant posts, ill-motivated staff and non-availability of essential drugs have undermined the curative services at the district hospitals.
Besides, lack of cleanliness in the hospital and dysfunctional ambulances and machines in government hospitals were some of the issues that concerned them.
Health centres: There are 19 PHCs, 5 CHCs and a number of sub-health centers. Of these, 13 PHCs and all CHCs provide 24-hour healthcare and have gynecological and pediatric facilities.
In addition to these, there are other facilities in urban centers focusing on specialized services. In the last 5 years, the government has improved the infrastructural facilities in the hospitals. The infant mortality rate in Goa is 10 and the male-female sex ratio in the state is 968 females to 1,000 males.
Medical insurance: Goa has a medical insurance scheme that covers its citizens based on income. A Goan with an annual income below 60,000 is entitled to a mediclaim policy. In the last 5 years, a newborn screening programme and kidney dialysis have also been covered under this programme.
Diabetes control: The health department expanded its free treatment to diabetes patients registered with private and government hospitals. They set up a diabetes registry and provide free medicines and insulin injections.
Newborn screening: The state of Goa in India launched a newborn screening (NBS) programme for all infants born in government healthcare facilities in 2008. This is the first programme of its kind in India (and possibly in the developing world) where newborns are screened for nearly 50 inborn errors of metabolism (IEMs or metabolic disorders).
Kidney transplant: Goa has started kidney transplants from 2011. Also. the number of dialysis units has been increased from 2 to 10.
Hi-tech ambulances: The state launched the EMRI ambulances to attend to medical emergencies under the toll free service. Goa will be the first state in the country to have paramedics posted in ambulances and emergency rooms in rural dispensaries. Also two ambulances were deployed exclusively to cater to neonatal emergencies, one in each district of the state. The ambulance will have incubator and ventilator as well as an advanced para-medical staff who will work to save children's lives.
Hospitals: There are nine government hospitals and 110 private hospitals. To check skyrocketing rates in the private sector, the government entered into a contract with ICICI Lombard insurance to launch its ambitious scheme to provide health insurance cover for resident Goans under the 'Swarnajayanti Aarogya Bima (SAB)Yojana'. But private nursing homes are refusing to be a part of the government health insurance scheme on grounds that rates of treatment offered to them is low. Also under the scheme, a family would have to spend from their pocket if the cost of treatment exceeded 60,000, even in government hospitals.
Privatization: The new North Goa district hospital at Mapusa is being developed under the public private partnership (PPP). However, till date this has not happened. Even the state government's plans to set up a multi-specialty hospital on PPP-basis is yet to become a reality.
The goal of elimination of lymphatic filariasis in the country is set to be achieved by 2015. The Goa government intends to achieve the target by this year.
Vital stats: The infant mortality rate in Goa is 10. The Sex Ratio in the State is 968 (as compared to 933 for the country).

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