`Govt has to play key role in primary healthcare'

Our Bureau

The Government's share in the healthcare delivery market (hospital treatment only) was only 40 per cent with the balance 60 per cent being provided by the private sector.

Kolkata, July 24

Seeking greater private sector participation, especially from non-profit private organisations (in the mould of Ramakrishna Mission or the various missionaries operating in Kerala and Tamil Nadu), in both secondary and tertiary healthcare sectors in Bengal, the State Health Minister, Dr Surjakanta Mishra, said the State was now catering to 73 per cent of hospitalisation in the Government sector, while for the rest of the country, it was only 40 per cent.

According to NSS figures, in the rest of the country, the Government's share in the healthcare delivery market (hospital treatment only) was only 40 per cent with the balance 60 per cent being provided by the private sector. In the mid-80s, the ratios were in the reverse for Government and private sector. Speaking at the valedictory session of CII's "Healthcare East" meeting (Building a tertiary healthcare hub in eastern India) here, the Minister suggested that tertiary healthcare (especially the high end treatment) cannot be looked at in isolation, as secondary hospitals (in smaller towns and cities) too needed to be built. The private sector did not mean only the corporates, but also involved the non-profit private organisations, which are capable of running medical facilities.

He said this was a well spread out movement in the southern part of the country, bringing patients from all parts of the country to such private establishments. Seeking a community movement for a proper healthcare system in the State, he said water testing laboratories were now being set up and the plan was to cover every single village within the next three years. Admitting that the Government has to play a key role in primary healthcare, especially at the village and district levels, he said there was also a need to focus on medical education and research through a public-private partnership approach, if improved all round tertiary healthcare has to come about.

According to a CII background paper presented at the meet, larger outpatient care in the country was almost in the country, and the decline of public investments and expenditures in the healthcare sector since 1992 has further weakened the healthcare systems.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 25, 2006)
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