Hyderabad: The rise in institutional deliveries in government hospitals and improvement in medical infrastructure has started to show a positive impact on vital healthcare parameters related to mother and child care in Telangana. In last five years, the State has seen a significant decline in maternal and infant mortality rate.
“Just a few years ago, the maternal mortality rate was at around 81 and now according to our internal reports it has gone down to 76. Similarly, the infant mortality rate that was around 39 a few years ago is now 28,” Health Minister Etela Rajender said.
Senior health officials here pointed out that the improvement in maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) has been due to special focus on improving infrastructure for mother and child health (MCH) in the State.
MCH and ICU centres
In the last five years, the authorities have set up nine MCH centres, each with 150 beds with a cost of close to Rs 90 crore. In the coming year, another 200-bed state-of-the-art MCH facility at Gandhi Hospital campus will be taken up at a cost of Rs.30 crore. The budget to start construction of the MCH facility at Gandhi Hospital has already been approved in the recent budget.
The authorities have also developed 20 intensive care units (ICUs) with each unit having 10 beds with a cost of close to Rs.30 crore. A speciality post-operative ICU facility was established at Petlaburj maternity hospital, which provides critical post-operative care to women who undergo complicated caesarean sections.
Senior paediatricians and public health specialists have said that advanced neonatal intensive care units at district hospitals have also played a part in improving the IMR levels in the State.
Doctors point out that the cash benefit scheme under KCR Kits for pregnant women has been a major reason for the rise in institutional deliveries at government hospitals and improvement in childhood vaccination.
In a recent interaction with presspersons, State Health Minister Etela Rajender said that the cash benefit scheme had improved MMR and IMR. “We accept that there are delays in releasing of funds under the KCR Kits and are trying to rectify the issue. But, no one can deny that the scheme has improved institutional deliveries and has reduced MMR and IMR,” he said
Health cess will go a long way for States: Etela
In a recent informal interaction with presspersons, Health Minister E Rajender batted wide ranging questions related to the sector. He pointed out that niggling issues impacting the health sector like issues at OGH, availability of quality medicines, staff and bed shortage would be resolved over a period of time.
On Centre’s role in funding projects in health
For the last few years, we have been trying hard to convince Health Ministry to financially reward not just aspiring States but also States that have been successful in implementing innovative measures to improve the sector. We clearly told them that the State government will cover recurring costs of all social initiatives in the health sector and they must make investments in new projects.
On health cess
Just like the Centre is levying a small cess towards education, there is a definite need for it to consider the possibility of introducing a similar cess in health. There are several Indian States in need of investments in health infrastructure but they don’t have the financial wherewithal. For such States, such a cess will go a long way.
On lack of funds and its impact on government health sector
Despite the financial crunch, we recently managed to pay up private hospitals who are empanelled under Aarogyasri insurance. There were pending medical bills worth over Rs 650 crore and now there are pending bills worth just Rs 450 crore. We are dipping into our own internal funds to take up developmental activities. I must make it clear that unlike other departments, in health sector, you can’t avoid expenditure by saying that government does not have funds. In health, we must keep spending.
Long term goal
We can’t keep depending on government medical infrastructure in Hyderabad to meet healthcare needs of patients in Telangana. We must decentralise and that’s a major reason why in the last five years and during this new term, we are focusing on creating medical infrastructure in districts. We are also committed to recruiting talent, either through direct recruitment or through contract, to fill newly created posts.