Dr Pramod Kumar Meherda, Mission Director (NRHM), Department ofÂ Health & Family Welfare, Government of Odisha, thinks technology is allÂ invasive as it can help healthcare reach the masses. In conversation withÂ Nayana Singh & Manjushree Reddy, ENN
How do you think ICT is helpful Â in Health & Family WelfareÂ Departments?
The Health Department deals with aÂ lot of complex systems. Added to that,Â every task here is urgent and has toÂ be done in a time bound manner. ForÂ instance, whether you are procuringÂ drugs or dealing with logisticsÂ and supply of consumables, vaccinesÂ etc, Â you need to know whether theyÂ have reached the desired destinationÂ within the desired time or not. In myÂ opinion, ICT is very important forÂ Health & Family Welfare DepartmentÂ to manage complex systems withÂ the much needed accountability andÂ transparency.
How has Health & FamilyÂ Department in OdishaÂ leveraged ICT to manage theseÂ complex systems?
Under the initiative, which we call e-Â Swasthya, we took up several e-innovationsÂ in the last few years. One ofÂ our major Â accomplishments has beenÂ e-Blood Bank, the first of its kind webÂ based MIS to improve managementÂ and functioning of blood banking system.Â By linking all the blood banks inÂ the State, the public interface underÂ this initiative allows real time accessingÂ of data relating to availability ofÂ desired blood group. By doing awayÂ with the manual system of accessingÂ information on required quantityÂ of blood Â units from specified bloodÂ banks, the initiative has brought inÂ the much needed transparency in theÂ blood banking system.
Likewise, we also have OdishaÂ Drug Inventory Management SystemÂ (ODIMS). Here, we track, in real time,Â if all the procured drugs Â have reachedÂ the destination, the stock position ofÂ various drugs at any given point ofÂ time, information on expiry of drugs,Â further requirement of drugs, etc.Â Similarly, the Drug Testing and DataÂ Management System, a web basedÂ application has helped automation ofÂ the day to day work processes of theÂ State Drug Testing and Research Labarotary.
We have also launched HumanÂ Resource Management InformationÂ System (HRMIS) and e-AttendanceÂ to manage and keep track of Â employees.Â HRMIS facilitates a GIS based HRÂ planning and management.
In Odisha, we have the State MalariaÂ Information System, a GIS-basedÂ application, which helps in providingÂ information on Â pidemiologicalÂ and surveillance parameters relatedÂ to malaria. Apart from this, with theÂ help of C-DAC, we have introducedÂ telemedicine facilities upto DistrictÂ Headquarter Hospitals.
We are now in the process of integratingÂ all these initiatives with aÂ more comprehensive Hospital ManagementÂ Information System (HIMS).
One of our majorÂ accomplishmentsÂ has been e-BloodÂ Bank, the first of itsÂ kind web basedÂ MIS to improveÂ managementÂ and functioningÂ of blood bankingÂ systemÂ
Please Â tell us how you manageÂ the order requirements?
The entire planning is being doneÂ through web based applications, integratingÂ them with GIS platforms. GISÂ has very strong foot Â forward in publicÂ health management under NRHM.Â I have already mentioned aboutÂ ODIMS, the drug testing and dataÂ management system, and e-BloodÂ Banking, which help us in managingÂ order requirements in their respectiveÂ fields. We have placed adequate staffÂ at various levels for timely data entryÂ and analysis.
Â How can we address theÂ consistent challenge ofÂ connecting to the people inÂ remote and rural areas?
Â This requires a multi-pronged strategy.Â In Odisha, we have tried to provideÂ differential incentives to doctors to encourageÂ them to serve in rural healthÂ centres. Besides, we are taking careÂ of the need for adequate and qualityÂ infrastructure at our delivery points,Â including staff quarters for health personnelÂ serving in rural areas.
It is also important that we reachÂ our rural and tribal population atÂ their doorsteps to reduce their out ofÂ pocket expenditure on Â health and toÂ build their confidence in public healthÂ systems, such as through MobileÂ Health Units (MHUs). At present, 354Â Mobile Â Health Units are operational toÂ provide primary health care servicesÂ at the community level in 7850 mostÂ difficult villages on a fixed Â day everyÂ Â month. A Mobile Health Unit has fiveÂ persons: a doctor, an ANM, pharmacist,Â attendant and a driver. These mobileÂ units take care of minor ailmentsÂ and if there is anything beyond theirÂ control, they refer them to the senior Â doctors. We already have two suchÂ units in all the blocks of tribal areas.
Free referral transport servicesÂ through 466 Janani Express and 422Â Ambulances have helped us in providingÂ access to rural Â opulation duringÂ critical situations. More than fourÂ lakh pregnant women and 35,000 sickÂ newborn babies are being benefittedÂ annually in this way. We have alsoÂ set up maternity waiting homes (MaaÂ Gruha) in remote tribal areas, whereÂ mothers arriving early for institutionalÂ deliveries are kept under medicalÂ supervision till they are shifted to theÂ health institution for actual delivery.Â Similarly, over the years, stepsÂ have been taken to provide healthÂ care services through active involvementÂ of the people. This has beenÂ achieved with the help of more thanÂ 43,000 ASHAs and formation of GaonÂ Kalyan Samitis in all the revenue villages.Â To cite an example; last year,Â at the village level, 2.50 lakh personsÂ were diagnosed and treated forÂ Malaria by ASHAs. Likewise, in theÂ same period, ASHAs successfully Â ollowed up 20,000 TB patients andÂ 500 suspected Leprosy patients atÂ village level. Community Â nvolvement Â has now become the mainstayÂ for public health service delivery inÂ rural areas.