In an exclusive interview with Kartik Sharma and Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN), Veenu Gupta, Principal Secretary, Department of Medical, Health & Family Welfare, Government of Rajasthan, shares the challenges and gaps confronting the healthcare sector of the Rajasthan state. With her wide experience and knowledge, she highlights the key lacunas, such as high MMR and IMR, in appropriate use of CSR funds, etc., and measures to fill the gaps and strengthen the healthcare sector and investment
As you recently joined the Medical, Health & Family Welfare Department of Rajasthan, how has been experience so far in the department?
As such, Rajasthan is a very diverse state with numerous challenges, particularly in the social sector. I have conducted review meetings of all the programmes on a one-to-one basis. Overall, I have found that there are still many challenges that need to be overcome. However, I can say that although a lot of ground has been covered, we are still struggling with high maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR). We are trying our best to deal with this problem, so that at the national level Rajasthan can prove that both MMR and IMR are our priority and we are focused upon reducing them.
What is your opinion on Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana (BSBY)?
BSBY was launched in December 2015. The scheme witnessed teething problems. With time, many of the issues have been resolved and some of them are in the process of resolution. Overall, I believe the team is working in the right direction. The software behind the entire scheme has evolved quite promisingly. It is able to achieve many of the objectives as any software should be able to. Besides this, there are some managerial and administrative issues, of which maximum have been resolved. More efforts are required on the IEC front.
What is your take on the use of information technology (IT) in healthcare?
IT has been used by all the sectors across both Rajasthan and India. Moreover, e-governance as a concept has become the buzzword, particularly with the increased focus by both central and state governments. However, we should be very conscious while implementing and using IT.
Personally, my view is that whenever we use IT, we should try to make it very simple so that the people to be benefitted from such IT interventions can comprehend the benefits. Both consumers and patients should be able to make appropriate use of IT interventions and such interventions should not be limited only to the department. Therefore, it should be advertised and publicised very well.
Besides this, if there are interventions for the department people, proper video conferencing, meetings and reviews should be conducted to make them understand the way to use the technology. I think IT is the need of the hour. Therefore, all states, including Rajasthan, must use it extensively to cut down the cost.
|• Working intensively on reducing both MMR & IMR on a priority basis
• The software behind the entire BSBY has evolved quite promisingly
• In the next 3 months, BSBY can prove to be an ideal health insurance scheme
• Make IT simpler to make it more customer or patient friendly
• Need to conduct more meetings & reviews to fill the gaps in appropriate use of CSR funds
What is your take on corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
As such, I have been working in the Department of Industries for quite long. We conducted a very good event called Resurgent Rajasthan on 19th and 20th November 2015 in Jaipur, with the primary objective of attracting investment from private sectors and sensitising them for investment in Rajasthan. Overall, many people are investing in Rajasthan. According to the Companies Act, many corporate companies with their big profits are supposed to contribute to the CSR. However, I have seen that there is a lack of coordination between the CSR funds and the departments that require those funds.
Because of my previous experience, I can assist my department to get more and more CSR funds. Though there are many gaps, these can be filled through the appropriate use of these funds. Our department can guide people on where to invest the money coming from CSR. I think next year can prove very crucial in engaging CSR funds and filling the gaps in our healthcare sector.
What is your take on public private partnership (PPP) in healthcare?
Given the enormous challenge in the health sector, efforts are being made to rope in energies and efficiencies of private sector to supplement government efforts. We have launched schemes for PPP in primary, secondary and tertiary care. For the PPP model to succeed, change of mindset is a must, especially at the district and sub-district level. The private partners should be given a fair chance to prove their worth.