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Need to focus on public health

Need to focus on public health

Hrishikesh Angom, Aug 24, 2010, Editorials, Imphal Free Press

Public health has been a neglected subject in the state of Manipur which is one of the 18 states of India selected for the implementation of National Rural Health Mission (2005-2012) for uplifting the health conditions of the people of rural areas. This issue of public health is most pertinent to the poor socio-economic condition of the state.

No doubt, the state has advanced so well in the field of medical science even capable of providing world-class personal health care services but the health condition of the general public is still in a deplorable condition resulting from improper maintenance of public health in the state.

Public health has been described as one of the important aspect of the society which requires overall enhancement of sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and drinking water facilities. But such an important matter of public health has been dumped rendering the socio-economic conditions of the state in haywire.

At present there is an outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis in the state which has already claimed more than 10 lives. The root cause of such epidemic is nothing but unhygienic environment resulting from poor drainage and sanitary system.
It is quite evident from these facts that the failure of state machineries has aggravated the health issues of the state. The departments which are supposed to maintain proper drainage and sanitary system have failed to accomplish the tasks and even the state health department is unable to provide proper health care services to the people.

The public health of the state is in a sorry state with no proper facilities of drinking water, drainage and sanitary system. The concept of “health for all” seems to be absent in the minds of the people and as a result they consider personal health as only their main concern. Other than degenerative diseases all other common diseases like malaria, dengue, cholera, Japanese Encephalitis, polio, chicken pox, measles etc. have to be dealt at the community level by organizing sensitization programmes and maintaining clean and hygienic environment.

There could not have been any outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis and other vector borne diseases in the state if there were proper drainage and sanitary system and the concerned department had taken up various preventive measures from time to time. All these things have been neglected by the people as well as by the government thereby posing serious threats to the public health.

There can be a strong healthy society only if the public health is strengthened by enhancing the facilities of sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and drinking water. All of these things require proper planning and policy of the government other than people’s active participation.

It has been reported that that the public health expenditure in India has declined from 1.3% of GDP in 1990 to 0.9% of GDP in 1999. The union budgetary allocation for health is 1.3% while the state’s budgetary allocation is 5.5%. Also, the union government’s contribution to public health expenditure is 15% while the state’s contribution is about 85%.

The vertical health and family welfare programmes have limited synergisation at operational levels. Lack of community ownership of public health programme has greatly impacted the efficiency and accountability of various health schemes taken up in the country.

In a recent survey of health researchers, it was found out that only 10% Indians have some form of health insurance mostly inadequate. Hospitalized Indians spend on an average of 58% of their total annual expenditure and over 40% of hospitalized Indians borrow heavily or sell assets to cover health expenses. It was also observed that over 25% of hospitalized Indians fall below poverty line (BPL).

In view of the above survey reports, the public health needs to be boosted up in both rural and urban areas so as to build a strong and healthy nation.

As for the state of Manipur, the people should try to get utmost benefits from the National Rural Health Mission (2005-2012) which aims to provide good health care facilities to the rural population throughout the country with special focus to 18 states including all NE states which are lacking proper health infrastructure. The public health of the country is likely to be improved with the increase of country’s health expenditure from 0.9% of GDP to 2-3% of GDP in the current year.

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