Strong community health workforce antidote to IMR, MMR

Direct interventions from the community level can improve health indicators in India, say experts.

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Sonal Matharu | December 29, 2010



To bring down the high maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rate in India, there is an urgent need to strengthen the health workforce at the community level. This idea was brought forward by various experts from the health sector at the opening session on Wednesday of a two-day seminar at AIIMS.

“We have to think beyond ASHAs for health awareness. The target should be community clusters where local influencers should be given the task of spreading knowledge on various health issues because these localites know the pulse of the community,” said Deoki Nandan, director, National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW).

India is the worst performer in the maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. Even though after the introduction of a central government programme called the Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (JSK) the rate of institutional deliveries has risen in both rural and urban areas in India, the country is still far behind in meeting the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

“Things have not moved an inch for the past decade or so. It seems like time has stood still. The problems and the solutions in the health sector that we discussed in 1994, till today we are discussing the same issues. We have enough technology and technical guidelines. We just need to act upon them and implement them better,” said former health secretary Sujatha Rao.

She added that the government has failed to strengthen the nurse practitioner who can easily take the burden off MBBS doctors and other specialists in the matters of maternal and child care.

There should be task shifting, say from doctors to nurses, because there is a huge crunch of human resources in health, said Nandan.

The conference saw the participation of AIIMS, World Health Organisation (WHO), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), NIHFW, UNICEF, health ministry and UNFPA, under the leadership of Dr Suneeta Mittal, head of gynecology department, AIIMS.
 

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