The government for a three-dimensional approach to health problems

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SHILLONG, August 27: Principal Secretary of the Department of Health, Sampath Kumar, has advocated a three-dimensional approach to health issues for the establishment of a dedicated framework. He also stressed the need for “blended” public health programs in northeastern states to overcome the shortage of medical specialists in the region.
He was speaking at a one-day roundtable organized by the government of Meghalaya and the Bengaluru-based Center for Budget and Policy Studies (CBPS) on Friday. The program was attended by Department of Health and Family Welfare representatives from Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland in addition to Meghalaya.
The roundtable focused on the findings of a CBPS-led study titled “Does the Northeast Need a Public Health Framework: A Study of Four Northeast States,” which was conducted during the second half of 2021.
The study is an in-depth review of Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland from the perspective of the public health landscape, health budgets, current administrative structure and core public health functions to understand whether these states would benefit from the presence of a public health system. frame.
The second CBPS study examined the current landscape of the Master of Public Health (MPH) program in the country. The study was led by CBPS director Jyotsna Jha, with support from the Thakur Foundation.
The CBPS study on the feasibility of a public health framework for the region said northeastern states performed better than the national average on MCH indicators and there was a high reliance central public health funding (through the NHM).
Some essential public health functions such as research and innovations ensuring a competent public health workforce were almost non-existent in the four states. There was an acute shortage of trained public health professionals in the four states, and as a result specialist physicians filled the public health positions, the study found.
“A blended public health program can help northeastern states address specialist shortages. Our approach must also be three-dimensional including preventive, promotional and curative care,” said Sampath Kumar.
The Meghalaya Health Policy, which came into effect in May 2021, ensures that health also focuses on preventive care rather than only curative care to create a healthy and productive population. It also focuses on creating an enabling dimension by empowering communities to become producers of health services and not mere recipients, such as through the newly introduced Village Health Councils in Meghalaya.
Additional Secretary of State Ram Kumar opened the roundtable and said states should first look at their public health system and come up with a framework structure that works best for them before creating a framework. public health.
Participants from the five states undertook a group exercise to assess the status of essential public health functions in each of the states.
A presentation was also made on a study that mapped MPH courses in India. The study showed that there are currently 105 facilities offering MPH in India, but only four of them are in the northeast. Only 37% of establishments were public establishments.
The study also found that students struggled with high tuition fees (average Rs 2.9 lakh for private institutions and Rs 87,000 for public institutions), insufficient information about online courses and poor field immersion. There was also no accrediting agency for MPH in India.
A brief presentation highlighting IIPH-Shillong’s contribution to public health education in the North East was also given during the panel discussion.

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