The West Bengal government is working towards developing a overall healthcare infrastructure and we will soon establish a world class healthcare system in the state, informs Dr BR Satpathi, Director Health Services & Secretary Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal to Subhajit Bhattacharya of Elets News Network (ENN)
What are the steps taken by the state government to restructure the status of healthcare in Bengal?
The entire healthcare system of the state has grown over the years under able governance of the Chief Minister of the state, Mamata Banerjee. Every year, the number of patients coming from neighbouring countries likes Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan to get treatment in Bengal is increasing. The state government is extremely serious about the overall development of the government healthcare infrastructure in the state and we will very soon establish a world class healthcare system in Bengal.
What are the major changes made in the women and child healthcare?
The SNCU (Sick Newborn Care Unit) in the state has increased over the last few years. The number has increased to 54 and it has impacted the rise of infant mortality in the state of Bengal and reduced the numbers remarkably. The maternal mortality rate in the state has dipped over the years from 142 to 113. The number of beds has increased in Tier II hospitals has touched 10,000. Over 40 multi specialty and super specialty hospitals will cater their services to the rural population of Bengal very soon. All of these hospitals have the strength of accommodating more than 500 patients. The state government is intolerant towards cribs death and we are hell bent to eradicate this from the state of Bengal.
What are the efforts taken by the state government to revamp the public healthcare system?
West Bengal is concentrating on all round development of public health infrastructure. A plethora of measures taken by the state government for example the dengue outbreak in the state is completely controlled, whereas in other states of India there is a steep rise in the dengue cases this year. As per the government statistics the malaria cases in Bengal have taken a nose dive and black fever will be completely eradicated from the state of West Bengal by the end of 2015, by following a unique model known as Munni model, which is now followed by several other states in India.
How state health recruitment board helps to deal with the problem of manpower crunch in the government healthcare machinery?
We have already established a recruitment board, which is addressing the overall manpower crisis in the healthcare sector of the state. The board recruits skilled manpower like the nursing staff and skilled doctors in the healthcare domain, it will also train the existing manpower to deal with the future challenges. The board helps in accelerating the entire recruitment procedure. Before this, it was the public service commission, which uses to monitor the long drawn recruitment process, but now we have a tailor made body which understands the demand of the industry and recruits skilled manpower as per the demand.
What is the response for Shishu Sathi an exclusive project for children with heart ailments?
Shishu Sathi is a PPP project which is targeted towards the treatment of heart related ailments in children. The state government has tied up with several state of the art hospitals, such as, BM Birla, Rabindra Nath Tagore Heart Research Institute and AMRI. In North Bengal, the government tied up with the Chhang Super Specialty Hospital and the entire treatment is cashless for the patient under this scheme. The fair price shops in the state have revolutionised the entire healthcare arena of Bengal. By following the PPP model this concept of the fair price shop has achieved a considerable success and successfully reduced the out of pocket expenses for the patients. Apart from this the Bengal government has established several low cost diagnostic centers which offer facilities of dialysis in the remotest corners of the state.
Over the years the drug budget of the state has increased manifold? Your Views?
The health directorate and the government have very meticulously moved towards reducing the out of pocket expense of the patients. To combat the issue on expensive medicines, we revamped the drug budget and increased it from 40 crore to 600 crore and increased the availability of drugs in the market. The CM, Mamata Banerjee, has also declared free of cost treatment for the patients in all the government run hospitals and medical colleges.
How is the government working on publicising different projects which are related to healthcare?
The government of West Bengal has initiated several sensitising drives to make sure that common citizens are about the plethora of medical facilities that the government has started for the well being of the citizens.
How is the government is ensuring to deliver affordable and equitable rural healthcare in the state?
The state government is revamping its entire healthcare facility and coming up with several state of the art hospitals which will be spread across the length and breadth of the state. The present government believes in equitable, affordable health care. We are building some of the most sophisticated hospitals in the remotest areas of West Bengal to facilitate the rural population of Bengal. This will boost the entire rural health care ecosystem of the state.
What are Governments initiatives towards enhancing medical education in the state?
On one hand the state health care, infrastructure is developing at a rocket pace and on the other hand, there is a massive dearth of doctors and in the state. To balance with these issues several initiatives such as increasing the seats at different medical colleges, establishing several new medical colleges in the state and district hospitals are on the anvil. The entire recruitment process of the doctors has been rehashed by taking out the house staffship. This has increased the inflow of doctors in the medical facilities spread across Bengal. The medical colleges in the state are expected to get several new nursing staffs through the newly commissioned nursing colleges, which will be camped across the state.
West Bengal is concentrating on all round development of public health infrastructure. The state government is revamping its entire healthcare facility
How has Rastriya Swayam Bima Yojna made a difference in health insurance scheme?
The insurance scheme has been beneficial as all the government hospitals enrolled and participating in it. For the welfare of the government employees the state government has unveiled a specific health scheme which has enabled the employees to get free treatment in all the government run hospitals as well as in some of the enlisted private hospitals.
What is the status of blood banks in the state, steps taken on the same?
The yearly requirement of blood in the state is close to nine lakh units and through several processes the state earns the same. The major concern is the entire blood procurement process is seasonal and the blood donation camps are not uniformly distributed and blood component separation facilities are also less in the state. To deal with these issues government staged several measures. Steps are taken to add fuel to the blood procurement process by collaborating with several clubs and associations. We understand the growing need of the blood banks in the state and we are stressing on the idea of building new blood banks in the state. Along with the new hospitals in the state we have sanctioned new blood banks in some of the remotest areas of Bengal.
In recent bilateral visit to Singapore and United Kingdom, Chief Minister of West Bengal primarily focused on healthcare. What are the outcomes of the visit?
Several MOUs were inked during the tour and knowledge exchange program in the healthcare will be rolled out soon with University of Dundee. They will train nurses with modern medical skills. Another MOU was signed with the Royal College of General Practitioners for providing technical support to the post graduate diploma courses on family medicine. We are also collaborating with the Singapore government to develop critical care facility in different parts of Bengal, which will definitely change the future of healthcare in Bengal.