To fill up the critical void of health care workers in villages, the Centre is mulling a new graduate course on public health. The course is aimed at creating a pool of personnel trained to “manage” certain routine health care activities including child delivery.
The feasibility of this proposed three-year course is being discussed between the Union health and human resource development ministries.
“The pass outs will not be called doctors, but will have some knowledge about basic health care and institutional child delivery, so that they can manage things at the primary health centre”, Union Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss stated here on Tuesday at an international review meeting of the national rural health mission.
High rates of maternal mortality – out of 100,000 new mothers, 407 die due to haemorrhage and anaemia – continues to be a big worry for the Centre. “Reducing it is a huge challenge and if these graduates can handle the institutional delivery in villages, it will have significant impact,” the minister said.
For the time being, the ministry is providing funds to district hospitals, sub-centres and primary health care units to improve their labour rooms. Resources are also being provided for recruiting three nurses and an equal number of midwives at the primary centres.
In addition, the hospitals are being provided “flexible resources” (between Rs 75,000 to five lakh). The amount can be used for various purposes- like hiring specialists on contracts, purchasing weighing machines for the health centres or providing a fresh saree to expectant mothers to avoid the risk of infection, Dr Ramadoss added.
As many as 1850 chartered accountants have been hired to keep an eye on the programme through regular auditing to ensure that the sanctioned funds actually reach those who need it.
The scheme to hire doctors on contract has yielded success with 3300 specialists – primarily from gynaecology and anaesthesia – roped into the national rural health mission. They are in addition to an existing pool of 3500 specialists already available in the primary health centres.
Course for MBBS students
The Centre has proposed to integrate an 18-weeks course on emergency obstetrics care for MBBS students, so that the fresh medical graduates can handle delivery cases better during their rural postings.
A series of nursing schools are also in the offing to generate adequate number of nurses for the mission.