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German aid boost to healthcare

Calcutta, Aug. 23: The government today undertook a Rs 150-crore project funded by Germany to upgrade primary health centres at the block level into community health centres.

Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee said at Writers’ Buildings that the doctors recently inducted through the Public Service Commission would be deployed at 38 “identified” block primary health centres in Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Purba Midnapore, Paschim Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia and Birbhum.

Chatterjee said Rs 37 lakh would be spent on each of the 38 block primary health centres to transform them into 30-bed hospitals with modern operation theatres and speciality services.

“We will deploy surgeons for operations like Caesarian section and hernia. Doctors with degrees and experience in administering anaesthesia will be appointed. Earlier, these health centres avoided operations due to lack of anaesthesia experts,” Chatterjee said.

To pump in more doctors to villages, serving medics willing to serve the primary health centres in their home districts would be given transfers.

Under the Germany-aided project, Rs 10 lakh will be spent on developing one of the three primary health centres in each of the selected block health centres. One primary health centre will be converted into a 10-bed hospital in each block. The remaining two health centres in a block will operate as out-patient departments.

The government is utilising a German health package to upgrade the rural healthcare delivery system. The project includes ambulance facilities at the block health centres.

The services will be maintained by NGOs. “We want to offer rural people facilities to take serious patients to hospital in ambulances instead of the slow, cumbersome manner in which they are carried by rickshaw vans,” said health secretary Asim Barman.

Chatterjee said NGOs like the Red Cross, St. John’s Ambulance Association, the Ramakrishna Mission, the Bharat Sevashram Sangha and People’s Relief Centre would run the ambulance services.

The health department will hand over the ambulances to the NGOs and they will run them following guidelines and charges fixed by the government.

In the present set up, besides the seven medical colleges, there are 16 district hospitals, 65 general and subdivisional hospitals, 94 rural hospitals and 345 primary health centres.

On Wednesday, the health department decided to set up an institute of transfusion medicine and immuno-haematology at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.

The posts for director, assistant professor and a resident medical officer have already been created for the institute, Barman said. Only the approval of the Medical Council of India is awaited.

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