Addressing the august gathering of healthcare leaders across the country at the Economic Times Healthcare Leaders Summit, T S Singh Deo, Minister of Health and family welfare, Government of Chhattisgarh spoke on the various measures being undertaken by his government to improve healthcare quality and access.
He stated that the state’s healthcare sector is better prepared to handle a health emergency like COVID than it was in 2020.
“The state has rampantly developed its testing capacity, medical healthcare centres including Community Health Centres (CHC) and primary health centres (PHC), Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and oxygen generating plants to ensure that the state is ready to deal with any covid wave in the future,” Deo said.
Elucidating on the positive changes that the inculcation of Information Technology (IT) has brought forth in the health sector, he said, “IT has been helpful for us to trace the supply of drugs, vaccines etc. It has been helpful in the Malaria Mukt Bastar Abhiyaan by the Chattisgarh government, it has been helpful in tracing patients during COVID time, our doctors from medical college at Raipur were able to guide doctors at the district level; we have the Mitanin Programme where the digital technology has helped bridge the payment to the Mitanins from about 1.5-2 years gap to almost every month.”
Talking about expansion of healthcare facilities especially keeping in mind COVID treatment after the second wave, he said “We started in September to put in oxygen generating plants and now the Government of India has also pitched in. 49 plants are now being made available through Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the rest 56-57 we are pitching. Earlier there was a single lab – National Institute of Virology in Pune that was able to diagnose or verify if a patient had corona. Now we have nine labs in medical colleges and six in the district hospitals, 10 out of which are functional, five will be made functional very soon as soon as we get the machinery.”
Highlighting that Chhattisgarh has been one of the leading states in India’s vaccination programme which is also the world’s fastest, Deo elucidating on the vaccine coverage in the state, said, “The vaccination experience for the state has been mixed, in the sense that we have vaccinated between 35-40 per cent of the targeted population with dose 1 and 2. We need to vaccinate around 4 crores in Chhattisgarh of which we have vaccinated around 1.55 crore to 1.60 crore doses. This means that about 40 percent of the population have been administered the first and second dose. We have the capacity to be able to vaccinate a minimum of three lakhs patients, even five lakh in a day which takes the state’s capacity to vaccinate 1 to 1.5 crore patients every month. According to this, our job would be done in two months. But the vaccines are not available.”
The minister further stated that the state department’s affordable diagnostics scheme which will include setting up new diagnostic labs in districts to conduct blood tests free of cost will be available in districts till March 2022.
Informing about the decisions taken by the state in the healthcare sector and future plans for improving accessibility and affordability, he said “One aspect of improving the quality and delivery of healthcare will be establishing a stable IT platform. The other would be identifying each individual, unless you identify each individual of the state, you will not be able to approach or provide them health services. We are also aiming to have a medical college in each of the 11 Lok Sabha constituencies. Today we have six medical colleges running, three sanctioned and one we are taking over a private medical college.”
He added, “We are bringing in services, vision, budget and construction all together and hoping for a much better health service delivery.”