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To address high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in the state, the Meghalaya government has identified several lacunas which require immediate attention.
With a clinical dimension being identified as one of the aspects contributing to high MMR and IMR in Meghalaya, the state government recently approved a policy for addressing a shortage of medical specialists.
This policy will be implemented through the Adoption of Alternate models for Responding to Shortage of medical specialists (ADARSH) project, which was launched in February last year.
This project is an attempt to scale up alternate models for responding to the critical shortage of medical specialists in the state by training doctors in the public sector.
The Meghalaya government has partnered with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) - Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) to strengthen the capital infrastructure and, the staffing of specialists in all the district hospitals.
Meghalaya has also adopted a College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPS) model, which allows the state government to reserve all seats for candidates who are domiciles of the state and, preference is given to in-service doctors.
CPS is one of the oldest postgraduate medical education institutions in India.
It has been recognised that medical specialists are scarce in Meghalaya and availability of specialists like gynaecologists, paediatricians, anesthesiologists and radiologists are crucial to providing care to high-risk pregnant mothers and low birth weight children and, to conduct CS operations.
“Around 7000 villages are remotely located and, therefore, there are glaring geographical challenges in reaching out to people in far-flung areas. It becomes even more challenging for the pregnant mothers to reach the nearest PHCs/CHCs,” Commissioner & Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare Sampath Kumar said.
“Further, whenever a woman, whose pregnancy has been identified as a high risk and a complicated one, approaches the nearest health centre, presence of specialists like gynaecologists, paediatricians, anesthesiologists and radiologists are fundamental for saving mothers and children in the State,” Kumar added.
This policy is aimed at addressing this gap and building the health system in the long run.
Currently, there are 141 vacancies in the State, but there are no medical specialists to fill up the posts.
Of course, getting admission for postgraduate specialisation is not a simple task, but it is time to nip this problem in the bud, Kumar said.
“If this is left to be continued like this, it will be extremely difficult to reduce the State’s MMR and IMR in the absence of specialists. The vision is that in the next 5-10 years, we should be able to train our own in-service doctors who can be positioned even at the remote CHC level,” he added.
(Edited by Laxmi Chyrmang)