April 2013

Odisha Healthcare Serving the Underserved

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Dr Pramod Kumar MeherdaDr Pramod Kumar Meherda, Mission Director (NRHM), Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Odisha, thinks technology is all invasive as it can help healthcare reach the masses. In conversation with Nayana Singh & Manjushree Reddy, ENN

How do you think ICT is helpful  in Health & Family Welfare Departments?

The Health Department deals with a lot of complex systems. Added to that, every task here is urgent and has to be done in a time bound manner. For instance, whether you are procuring drugs or dealing with logistics and supply of consumables, vaccines etc,  you need to know whether they have reached the desired destination within the desired time or not. In my opinion, ICT is very important for Health & Family Welfare Department to manage complex systems with the much needed accountability and transparency.

How has Health & Family Department in Odisha leveraged ICT to manage these complex systems?

Under the initiative, which we call e- Swasthya, we took up several e-innovations in the last few years. One of our major  accomplishments has been e-Blood Bank, the first of its kind web based MIS to improve management and functioning of blood banking system. By linking all the blood banks in the State, the public interface under this initiative allows real time accessing of data relating to availability of desired blood group. By doing away with the manual system of accessing information on required quantity of blood  units from specified blood banks, the initiative has brought in the much needed transparency in the blood banking system.
Likewise, we also have Odisha Drug Inventory Management System (ODIMS). Here, we track, in real time, if all the procured drugs  have reached the destination, the stock position of various drugs at any given point of time, information on expiry of drugs, further requirement of drugs, etc. Similarly, the Drug Testing and Data Management System, a web based application has helped automation of the day to day work processes of the State Drug Testing and Research Labarotary.
We have also launched Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS) and e-Attendance to manage and keep track of  employees. HRMIS facilitates a GIS based HR planning and management.
In Odisha, we have the State Malaria Information System, a GIS-based application, which helps in providing information on  pidemiological and surveillance parameters related to malaria. Apart from this, with the help of C-DAC, we have introduced telemedicine facilities upto District Headquarter Hospitals.
We are now in the process of integrating all these initiatives with a more comprehensive Hospital Management Information System (HIMS).

One of our major accomplishments has been e-Blood Bank, the first of its kind web based MIS to improve management and functioning of blood banking system 

Please  tell us how you manage the order requirements?

The entire planning is being done through web based applications, integrating them with GIS platforms. GIS has very strong foot  forward in public health management under NRHM. I have already mentioned about ODIMS, the drug testing and data management system, and e-Blood Banking, which help us in managing order requirements in their respective fields. We have placed adequate staff at various levels for timely data entry and analysis.

 How can we address the consistent challenge of connecting to the people in remote and rural areas?

 This requires a multi-pronged strategy. In Odisha, we have tried to provide differential incentives to doctors to encourage them to serve in rural health centres. Besides, we are taking care of the need for adequate and quality infrastructure at our delivery points, including staff quarters for health personnel serving in rural areas.
It is also important that we reach our rural and tribal population at their doorsteps to reduce their out of pocket expenditure on  health and to build their confidence in public health systems, such as through Mobile Health Units (MHUs). At present, 354 Mobile  Health Units are operational to provide primary health care services at the community level in 7850 most difficult villages on a fixed  day every  month. A Mobile Health Unit has five persons: a doctor, an ANM, pharmacist, attendant and a driver. These mobile units take care of minor ailments and if there is anything beyond their control, they refer them to the senior  doctors. We already have two such units in all the blocks of tribal areas.
Free referral transport services through 466 Janani Express and 422 Ambulances have helped us in providing access to rural  opulation during critical situations. More than four lakh pregnant women and 35,000 sick newborn babies are being benefitted annually in this way. We have also set up maternity waiting homes (Maa Gruha) in remote tribal areas, where mothers arriving early for institutional deliveries are kept under medical supervision till they are shifted to the health institution for actual delivery. Similarly, over the years, steps have been taken to provide health care services through active involvement of the people. This has been achieved with the help of more than 43,000 ASHAs and formation of Gaon Kalyan Samitis in all the revenue villages. To cite an example; last year, at the village level, 2.50 lakh persons were diagnosed and treated for Malaria by ASHAs. Likewise, in the same period, ASHAs successfully  ollowed up 20,000 TB patients and 500 suspected Leprosy patients at village level. Community  nvolvement  has now become the mainstay for public health service delivery in rural areas.



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