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Specialised healthcare for Siliguri

Siliguri, Jan. 3: The health department plans to improve the neurology, nephrology and cardiac departments at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) so that patients do not have to go all the way to Calcutta for specialised treatment like dialysis and pacemaker implant.

“The nephrology and cardiology departments will function six days a week, while the neurology department will be open three days a week with immediate effect,” Bengal health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said today. He was talking to reporters after a review meeting of his department’s work in the six north Bengal districts.

The decisions were taken last evening, when Mishra chaired another meeting at NMBCH. Additional chief secretary Kalyan Bagchi, Darjeeling chief medical officer of health Subir Bhowmik, medical college principal Udayan Ganguly and hospital superintendent Samir Ghosh Ray attended the meeting.

The indoor departments, too, will start functioning as soon as the recruitment process is complete, the minister said. “Our aim is to see that specialised healthcare delivery is made possible in north Bengal itself. Investigative procedures like CT scans and MRIs will also be undertaken either directly or through public-private partnerships.”

However, it will take time to restart radiotherapy, required in cancer treatment, at NBMCH because the cobalt source has to be imported. The governing body has been asked to hasten all other pending work at the hospital, the minister said.

On filling up vacant posts, Mishra said a drive will be started to seek out specialist doctors from the private sector, whether in north Bengal or in other regions, who are willing to work here. If needed, the local administration would arrange for special perks for these doctors.

Today’s review meeting focussed on the delivery of healthcare services at the grassroots levels through the gram panchayats.

“The panchayats have been given several powers and funds. The ones that are not covered by block or primary health centres (there are 2,086 such panchayats in the region) will at least have sub-centres attended by graduates in recognised alternative systems of medicine, like homeopathy or ayurveda,” Mishra said. Their stipends have been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per month.

In addition, 100 gram panchayats have been empowered to recruit MBBS doctors who will be paid Rs 500 a day to attend health centres run by the panchayats.

“A ‘challenge’ fund has been made available to meet these and other contingency expenses,” the minister said.

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