Save Muzaffarpur’s children by repairing its broken primary health centres
With Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, making hospitalisation affordable has been getting a lot of attention. But the Muzaffarpur encephalitis tragedy has put the spotlight on how dangerously the health system fails children (and adults) before they can make it to a hospital. In a distressing report today Rema Nagarajan highlights the broken state of Muzaffarpur’s primary health centres. These are where a simple dose of glucose could have saved several of the lives lost to AES this month.
Given official norms of one PHC for every 30000 population and given its population of a little over 5.1 million, Muzaffarpur should have over 170 PHCs. But a health ministry database shows only 103 PHCs. Worse, all but five of these failed the mandatory requirements so badly that they were not considered fit even to be graded in the 2018-19 evaluation. The five that were, were rated zero.
Actually ground reports about PHCs from several parts of the country reinforce this point: there is crippling shortage of medical staff; other resources are similarly deficient; there are shortfalls even in electricity, water, hygiene. Such PHCs can offer little help to the poor, undernourished children and their parents. And yet, providing this help is their reason for existing. It is likely that an investigation into nutrition programmes under the ambit of Integrated Child Development Services would show up deficits as glaring as in the PHCs.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.