Hyderabad, April 7 (IANS) India’s youngest state Telangana, like other states and countries, is celebrating World Health Day on Tuesday at a time when COVID-19 has brought everything to a standstill and impacted even the delivery of healthcare services to non-COVID patients.
With 11 deaths and nearly 400 COVID-19 positive cases, Telangana is one of the states with a high number of infections.
However, health experts say as the first state to order a total lockdown and with effective implementation of the restrictions and social distancing it is showing the way to many other states in the country.
In its nearly six-year journey as a state, Telangana has improved in many public health parameters.
In the overall health index rankings released by the National Institution of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog last year, Telangana was in the 10th position among 21 larger Indian states. It improved its ranking by a notch compared to 2018.
The state ranked amongst the top three states for two consecutive years (2018 and 2019) in providing better medical care through public sector health facilities.
Though Telangana performed well in key health indicators such as Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) and under-five mortality rate, its performance was found wanting in other key indicators such as sex ratio at birth and low birth weight among newborns.
Among the southern states, Telangana is lagging behind Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
“Overall in the country southern states are doing very well compared to other states. If you compare with the best, may be Telangana has to further move up the ladder but it is reasonably okay and on track,” Dr S. Shantha Kumari, President Elect, Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecological Society of India, told IANS.
Health department authorities pointed out that the government’s initiatives during the last six years were focused on improving the reproductive and child healthcare services.
According to Socio Economic Outlook 2020 of the state, Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has reduced from 92 in 2013 to 76 in 2017. The IMR has steadily declined from 34 in the year 2014 to 29 in the year 2017 and Under-5 Mortality Rate decreased from 40 in the year 2014 to 32 in the year 2017.
The introduction of a ‘KCR Kit’ scheme (with cash and kind support for items necessary for pregnant women for a safe delivery) has increased the institutional deliveries in public institutions from 31 per cent to 60 per cent.
The latest official figures for MMR are yet to come out but Shantha Kumari believes it has come down to below 70. “If the same trend continues the state can bring it down to a single digit to be on par with the European countries.”
As the burden of non-communicable diseases is at about 60 per cent, the government plans to conduct awareness activities, which will be carried out on a large scale through Health and Wellness Centres (HWC) to sensitize people on lifestyle diseases.
The state is implementing the Aarogyasri Scheme (AS), a unique government sponsored health insurance scheme with the aim to assist families below the poverty line and protect them against a ‘catastrophic’ health expenditure.
The state has 1064 health facilities with beds, seven teaching hospitals and 14 specialty hospitals, 31 districts hospitals, 19 area hospitals.
Hyderabad, a major metropolis, has the biggest concentration of health facilities both public and private.
“Rural Telangana probably needs upgradation of medical services,” feels Suchitra Ella, Joint Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, a leading vaccine maker.
Telangana had 10 districts at the time of its formation in 2014 but they were recently reorganized into 33 districts. Suchitra Ella believes bifurcated districts would facilitate better administration and better health services.
“Hyderabad has a good reputation of private and public medical services. The city is known for the best of the health services and medical treatment,” said Suchitra.
She believes that Hyderabad has the added advantage of a strong backbone of pharma and vaccine industry. “No other city has half a dozen large numbers of human vaccine manufacturers and a strong pharma industry. Hyderabad has the unique advantage.”
The fairly good infrastructure in public health institutions in Hyderabad has come handy for the state to deal with the COVID-19 situation. Gandhi Hospital, one of the biggest teaching hospitals in the state, has been turned into the nodal centre to deal with the cases. The Institute of Preventive Medicine, known as Fever Hospital, and Chest Hospital are also tackling the suspected cases.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at email@example.com)