Calcutta, Dec. 5: The European Commission has granted Rs 50 crore to shore up Bengal’s dismal rural healthcare system.
Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee today said at Writers’ Buildings the money was sanctioned after a year-long negotiation. The aid will be used to start a programme, the first phase of which will be launched in Malda, Bankura, Purulia and Murshidabad by the end of this month, he added.
Under this scheme, Rs 5 crore will be spent on a general awareness campaign among primary and secondary school students on all aspects of health and hygiene and the use of science in daily life.
Students would also be educated on sex during adolescence and provided necessary counselling to prevent them from contracting diseases such as AIDS.
Funds would be provided to train instructors who would eventually conduct the awareness programmes. Posters, study materials and others implements would be bought for the campaign.
Chatterjee said the grant would be spent on several projects, to be taken up next year. They include infrastructure upgrade of various state laboratories used for testing medicines, food and water to check adulteration.
“If we get better equipment and restart these testing centres they will be of great help to the people. We can get down to the unscrupulous traders who otherwise escape detection when they sell adulterated food,” the health services director said. Most of these laboratories are virtually defunct and their employees idle.
Chatterjee admitted that Bengal was way behind target in various immunisation programmes in the rural areas. “We have, at best, been able to achieve a target of 55 per cent, on an average, in immunisation. I think the reason behind this is that there is little motivation among those who run these camps,” he added.
People remain ignorant in districts such as Murshidabad, which recorded the highest incidence of polio, Chatterjee said.
“We have seen that people in many areas have no awareness that pulse polio camps are being held and as a result large number of infants are not being immunised.”