The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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On way: IIT-like centre for health

Calcutta, Dec. 27: Bengal is set to host one of the country's five Institutes of Public Health Administration to be set up by the Centre in collaboration with the private sector.

Ranjit Pandit, who heads global consultant McKinsey in India, discussed the project with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today.

'They are setting up five institutes to train health workers in five states and wanted to know if we're interested. I told him I want the first institute to come up in Bengal. We really need this expertise as we have a large pool of health workers who will benefit from the training,' the chief minister said after the meeting.

The institute, he added, will be managed by a society formed by the Government of India in collaboration with private partners.

The society will pump Rs 100 crore into each of the five centres that will be autonomous and based on the IIT model, officials in the chief minister's secretariat said.

McKinsey is a consultant to the project.

'The idea was floated by the Prime Minister's Office. I am told that by January, the constitution and members of the society will be finalised and the institutes will be launched in March,' Bhattacharjee said on his way out of Writers' Buildings.

Pandit told Bhattacharjee around 50 acres would be required for the project.

'The chief minister readily agreed. The institute will come up at Kalyani in all likelihood. It will offer degree and diploma courses. The consultants will send us the details later,' an official said.

'It is high time we had such institutes. For a fool-proof healthcare delivery system, we need trained administrators, managers, nurses and paramedic employees,' said Sajal Dutta, the president of the Association of Hospitals in Eastern India.The health sector in the state, Dutta added, is likely to see investments worth over Rs 2,000 crore over the next five years.

Besides, the government intends to facilitate setting up of a health city near Calcutta.

Around 40,000 health and paramedic staff members would be required for the hospitals that are set to come up in the next five years. 'Half of this number has to be nurses,' said Dutta.

Hospitals in Bengal now suffer from an acute shortage of quality nurses and health workers.

Over 1.10 lakh people are now engaged in health services in the government sector in Bengal and another 1 lakh in the private sector.

Studies conducted so far have pointed out that though health infrastructure in the government sector in Bengal is better than in many other states, employees' poor managerial and administrative skills prove a letdown.

'Even under the traditional administrative system, it is possible to provide good health services. But there are several bottlenecks ' piling files, pressure from workers' unions and mindset,' a senior health department officer said.

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