Public health cries for care in Kerala

Deccan Chronicle.

Nation, Current Affairs

A separate public health dept is need of the hour, say experts.

The health department which is overburdened with the responsibilities of running more than 1250 hospitals in the state.

Thiruvananthapuram: Despite vector borne diseases like dengue striking fiercely every year and taking its toll on people’s health, successive governments in the state have not yet come out of their crisis management mode to deal with the serious health issue.

The health department which is overburdened with the responsibilities of running more than 1250 hospitals in the state, is finding it difficult to effectively manage the public health challenges. Experts say there is a need for creating a separate public health directorate to tackle public health issues including prevention and control of infectious diseases.

Ahead of creating the directorate, the government needs to create a exclusive public health cadre. Neighbouring Tamil Nadu has a separate public health directorate which is functioning effectively.

Experts say the health department should continue to focus on major hospitals including district, taluk and general hospitals while the secondary and primary community health centres could be handled by the public health directorate. This system would be effective in dealing with the growing infectious and communicable diseases in the state.

The immunisation programmes, disease control and prevention programmes which are now being carried out by the directorate of health services, should be transferred to the public health directorate once it is formed. Experts say at the moment the health department set up was focused more on crisis management rather than working on a long term action plan.

It is high time the state government thought of a roadmap to tackle the recurring communicable diseases mainly mosquito borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya, they added.

There is a need for an integrated strategy involving local bodies, Kerala Water Authority, town planning department, health and family welfare besides social justice department to tackle public health issues.

Ironically, the government is even not utilising the facilities at the Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies which started Masters in Public Health (MPH) way back in 1997 for training public health officials.

While many officials from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar North East have undergone training here in public health issues, the Kerala authorities are yet to encourage its staff to undergo training at the premier institute.