Hyderabad: Telangana has taken a beating in the health sector and has been placed in the 12th position in the Niti Aayog Health Index, five spots behind AP.
Last year, Telangana was ranked 10th in the health index, and AP was ranked ninth.
The indicators on the basis of which states are assessed have been divided into three categories. The first category is health outcomes, which includes neonatal mortality rate, under-five mortality rate, and sex ratio.
The second category is governance, which includes immunisation, average out-of-pocket payment in public hospitals, and the proportion of institutional deliveries. The third category is key inputs, which includes the proportion of vacant health care providers in public hospitals, and the proportion of facilities that operate 24x7.
Telangana has seen a marginal improvement in health outcomes. Dr Hima Bindu Singh, the president of the Indian Paediatrics Association, says, “We should understand that after many years there is finally some focus on the public healthcare system. Many schemes being implemented by the government have just started being used by the public. We have definitely seen an improvement in the neonatal mortality rate and we will work to ensure that the under-five mortality rate and fertility rate improve as well, but we need to increase awareness about the same.”
Under the governance category, Telangana has seen a steep decrease in immunisation coverage, but an equally large increase in institutional deliveries.
Dr B. Nagendra, the superintendent of Osmania General Hospital, says, “Institutional deliveries have improved because of the introduction of the KCR Kit. But we have fallen back in terms of many other indicators such as TB. We need better healthcare in tribal and remote areas. The number of patients will only increase because of the density of population and the pollution that we have.”
Telangana has also witnessed a steep decline in the number of vacant positions of healthcare providers. There has been no change in the proportion of public health clinics that operate 24x7 as compared to the base year.
Dr Ramesh Reddy, the director of medical education, says, “Telangana is a new state and our appointments are done through the public service commission, unlike AP, and so it takes time. However the situation has improved this year, and by the end of this year, we will have surpassed other states. Being a new state, we need more time to work on all indicators. Our government has launched integrated healthcare services, which will include patient caretakers that will help improve our healthcare system.”