Friday, June 12, 2009

Mizoram: Health check list for officials

By- Paritosh Chakma

On 11 June 2009, Mizoram’s Health Department in a statement stated that 17 people died of malaria during January to April 2009 in the state. This is itself alarming. But I think this is a very underestimated figure.

Malaria is number one enemy in Mizoram. Particularly the rural areas are malaria prone and the villagers are more victims than in urban areas.

Yet, the govt of Mizoram’s fight against malaria is grossly inadequate. Any villager of Mizoram, in any corner of the state, will agree with me that there not adequate measures installed there to fight malaria and other easily curable diseases. This lack of preparedness kills hundreds every year.

Mizoram is one of the 18 “high focus states” in the National Rural Health Mission (2005-2012) but the basic healthcare facility is yet to reach the rural areas. The goal of the NRHM “to improve the availability of and access to quality healthcare by people, especially for those residing in rural areas, the poor, women and children” - which is still an unrealistic dream.

All rural Mizoram face the problem of lack of access to proper and basic healthcare. In the Chakma inhabited areas along the Mizorram-Bangladesh borders, people think they still live in the Dark Ages. That's because people continue to die from unknown diseases. In some remotest areas, where there are no roads, villagers don't have even a malaria pill to consume or any trained health personnel to consult - simply because both are not available for them.

Yet, the government of Mizoram boasts of having recruited more health staff or established more health centres than necessary for the people of Mizoram. A government data of March 2007 stated that Mizoram had 366 Sub Centres against the required 146; 57 Primary Health Centres against required 22; and 9 Community Health Centres against required 5 in the state! The same data points out that there were 39 doctors at PHCs against required 57 (that is shortfall of 18), there were 303 Heath Workers against required 366 (that is shortfall of 63); but surprisingly no shortfall of Health Assistants (both male and female). See http://www.mohfw.nic.in/NRHM/State%20Files/Mizoram.htm

If that is the case, then why there is no medical staffs (health assistants) in Chakma villages. I am sure even the Mizo villages, or Hmar villages, or Lai villages in Lai ADC or Mara villages in Mara ADC and certainly in Bru villages do not have adequate number of health staff to take care of their health needs.

If we have more Sub Centres and Primary Health Centres and Community Health Centres than are actually required in Mizoram, the question arises as to why some of the villages do not have any? Certainly, not all villages in Mizoram have Primary Health Centres. Some even do not have Sub Centres. Many Chakma village on the India-Bangladesh border (which are outside the Chakma ADC) certainly do not have these medical facilities.

Then, what is the Mizoram government trying to tell to the world?

The government of Mizoram needs to re-think its health policies. First and foremost, Mizoram government must recruit such health experts who can appropriately calculate how many SCs, PHCs and hospitals we need in Mizoram, so that its people, in every corners, enjoy the right to "highest attainable physical and mental health".

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