Magazine 332

Transforming Health Landscape of Rajasthan

Banshidhar Khandela

Banshidhar Khandela
State Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Rajasthan

The Health Department of Rajasthan has taken a lead in improving the quality of healthcare delivery across the State. Banshidhar Khandela, State Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Rajasthan, highlights the transformation of the health sector that has been set in motion as also the Government’s priorities and initiatives in bringing down maternal and child mortality and the growing burden of NCDs, in conversation with Kartik Sharma and Rajbala of Elets News Network (ENN).

What are the new schemes introduced by the Government of Rajasthan to improve healthcare services in the State?

The Government of Rajasthan has been working very hard for the last four years to improve the health of common people. Mission Parivar Vikas has been launched recently for improving the total fertility rate in Rajasthan, under which 14 districts have been targeted where total fertility rate is more than three.

Secondly, Mission Indradhanush and Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) have been introduced in Rajasthan for encouraging vaccination and immunisation of children to ensure positive health outcomes in the State. For improving maternal health and child health, many new initiatives, like the Chirayu programme, have been taken up. It has been executed in eight districts of Rajasthan where newborn mortality rate is very high.

Moreover, initiatives like telemedicine, mobile dental van and many other initiatives have been introduced by the State Government.

How do you see rural healthcare sector performing in Rajasthan? Do you think the healthcare infrastructure in rural Rajasthan is satisfactory?

I belong to a rural area in Sikar district. The one thing I have observed recently is that now people residing in rural areas are very satisfied with the healthcare infrastructure available there.

Earlier, there used to be only a few centres with Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) and doctors. But now every village in Rajasthan is connected to some sub centre or Primary Health Centre (PHC) or Community Health Centre (CHC). We have also made available free of cost many drugs and diagnostic facilities to the public.

Our honourable Chief Minister has introduced Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana, under which the entire treatment package is available to 67 per cent of the population free of cost if they hold a National Food Security Act (NFSA) card.

So, looking at the current scenario I can say I am satisfied with the Government health system in Rajasthan.

What are the major problems or challenges in the healthcare sector of Rajasthan?

From geographical point of view, Rajasthan is the largest State in the country and we have many unapproachable areas.

Therefore, in order to make health facilities accessible to all is one of the major challenges we have. Secondly, availability of sufficient number of doctors and super specialists is an issue. To deal with such issues the Government has taken various initiatives.

To overcome the shortage of doctors and paramedical staff, we have started many courses in medical colleges. Likewise, we have initiated a 21-month course in medical colleges and tied up with the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPS), Mumbai for starting similar kind of courses.

Another major issue we have in the State is literacy. Firstly, our population has to be well aware about their health needs, like cleanliness to prevent diseases like dengue, swine flu and viral fever. For example, people residing in villages still avoid going to health facilities to take preventive measures.

But with our awareness programmes, changes can be seen happening and if we keep on promoting and maintaining health literacy in rural areas the challenge of health illiteracy can be met.

What is your take on status of PC & PNDT Act of Rajasthan?

Our Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) cell is doing a wonderful job. The team has not only controlled female foeticide and sex determination in Rajasthan, but with the support of IPC and CrPc provisions and in collaboration with State teams of neighbouring States, has acted against unregistered centres or registered centres involved in illegal act in six other States. States like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, and MP have been also covered by PCPNDT team. I believe such initiatives will improve child sex ratio.

Female foeticide has become a subject of discussion these days. The interesting fact is that in rural areas people are changing their mindset and realising the importance of daughters. People have started educating their girl children, supporting them in their career and making them equal shareholders in property. These improvements in societal mindset will result in reduction of female foeticide and will improve child sex ratio.

Earlier, there used to be only a few centres with Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) and doctors. But now every village in Rajasthan is connected to some sub centre or Primary Health Centre (PHC) or Community Health Centre (CHC). We have also made available free of cost many drugs and diagnostic facilities to the public.

In rural areas, school children majorly suffer from dental problems. What major steps have been taken in this context in Rajasthan?

True, we can observe the children suffering from dental problems in rural schools in villages. Surprisingly, even parents do not take dental problems seriously unless their children are in deep pain.

To eradicate this issue, our government has introduced dental mobile vans which provide dental care services in all districts majorly to school children. Many new dentists have been deputed and dental chairs as well as dental treatments have been made available at CHC level. We have also implemented an oral health programme in the State and I am sure that these measures will improve the overall health status in the State.

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