Kerala tops in global health coverage, say experts at summit

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 18 (PTI) Kerala has been the first in the world to effectively invest in primary healthcare to achieve the standards of the universal health coverage laid down by the WHO (World Health Organisation), a global summit noted.

The summit, a virtual international conference on 'Kerala Health: Making the SDG a Reality' organised by the state Health Ministry, said the focus of the state on integrated services enables its welfare system to nullify conventional socio-economic inequities owing to urban-rural and the elite-poor divide.

The development of family health centres (FHCs) in the past four years under Keralas Aardram Mission as a pioneering people-friendly project is set to eliminate such variations, speakers opined here on Wednesday,an official press release said.

UNICEF Chief of Health (India) Luigi D'Aquino, who was part of the discussion,said the universal health coverage cannot ignore the private sector from regulation to participation to delivery of services.

'All the same, public financing for health must prioritise PHCs (primary health centres),' he said.

State Health SecretaryRajan Khobragade said the incredible transformation of a PHC in hilly Wayanad into a modern medical facility since 2017 exemplifies the successful profile of Aardram as a pioneering people-friendly project.

'The FHC in the tribal belt of interior Noolpuzha with its new OP and in-patient blocks, physiotherapy and antenatal wings, telemedicine facilities and e-rickshaws besides childrens park and an open-air geriatric corner stands proof to the critical role of community participation in developmental initiatives,' he said.

He said Kerala has succeeded in making communities aware of their entitlements and promoted a healthcare system that is accountable.

The 2017-initiated Aardram has by far upgraded 767 PHCs in Kerala to FHCs as first-level health delivery points of high quality, Khobragade said.

'The rest of the 200-odd PHCs in the state will be made FHCs by the end of 2020. The process generates 4,000 posts which are getting filled,' he said.

Medical Officer of the Noolpuzha FHC Dr Dahar Muhammed revealed that the Aardram-triggered enhancement in the centres health services has raised OP count from 40-60 a day to close to 250.

Daily lab tests have risen by five times from what was 20 four years ago, he added.

At the discussion moderated by NHM Kerala Mission Director Dr Rathan Kelkar, ex-lead health specialist, World Bank, Dr G N V Ramana spoke on the UHC experiences from the African countries.

The webinar series that began on February 17 with focus on the prospects of achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) amid an added challenge posed by COVID-19 is being held across five days this month and early March. PTI RRT NVG NVG