A public health centre in Patratu, Ramgarh district
Ranchi, July 31: Jharkhand High Court today directed the state government to increase the number of primary health centres in the state to improve the existing medical check-up system and control maternal and child mortality rates.
A division bench of Chief Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Amitav Kumar Gupta, while hearing a PIL initiated suo motu on the basis of a media report, observed that the existing PHCs in the state needed to be overhauled with better equipment and facilities.
The court said primary health centres (PHCs) functioned with limited resources and were starved of finances. Hence, the government should fill up all vacancies and ensure proper supply of medicines for treating the needy.
The advocate representing the state, Rajesh Kumar, said several steps were being taken to control infant mortality rates.
One of the main reasons for deaths of newborns was non-institutional deliveries, primarily in the hinterland, done with inadequate medical supervision leading to infections, he explained.
But, when Kumar said there were only 330 PHCs in Jharkhand, the court observed that the number was too few for a state with 24 districts.
The number of centres, taken as a whole, was less compared to the population. More PHCs were required in forest areas and distant villages, the court observed.
The high court initiated the PIL on the basis of a news report published in a Hindi daily last year on August 1. The report claimed that every year, about 46,000 children within the age of 5 died in the state.
According to the report, the figures had been provided after careful scrutiny of facts and by collating data from various districts.
The report also said that at least 19,000 children died within 20 days of their birth. According to government data, out of 1,000 births, 55 children did not survive beyond their fifth birthday, while 38 died within a year and 24 died within 28 days.
The next hearing is after a fortnight.