DoNER minister Jitendra Singh
New Delhi, March 22: A public health think-tank is set to offer lessons in the diagnosis and management of chronic health disorders to government primary care physicians across the Northeast as part of a project to enhance the healthcare services quality in the region.
The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) will also offer short-term courses, on topics ranging from health financing to prevention campaigns, to government officials from the northeastern states under the project launched today and financed by the DoNER ministry
In the first phase of the Healthy Northeast project, the PHFI will offer these courses over the next two years to physicians and state officials nominated by Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram, officials associated with the project said.
The activities may be scaled up to other states after 2019, they said.
"Primary care doctors will receive training in the diagnosis and management of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," Priscilla Ngaihte, a public health specialist at the PHFI and head of the Healthy Northeast project, told The Telegraph.
The project will also seek to improve awareness about various types of cancers through periodic workshops and train schoolteachers who could be used to lead campaigns in schools to wean away students from tobacco and alcohol or guide them on adolescent health issues, Ngaihte said.
The in-service training to the government officials is expected to help improve their capacity to manage public health programmes.
The PHFI hopes to train about 25 primary care doctors per course per year, three government officials and 25 schoolteachers from each of the four states.
Health officials say the Northeast, which accounts for about 3.8 per cent of the country's population, provides some unique challenges such as its sparse population and distance from large metropolitan centres.
The propose project is expected to help states scale up public health efforts by relying on the trained doctors and officials.
Ngaihte said the project will also seek to identify possibilities for "cross-cultural exchanges" between states that may enable them to share models and practices relevant to public health. "We know Sikkim, for instance, is among the cleanest states in the country. The cross-cultural exchange will aim at allowing states to adopt good practices from elsewhere."
The PHFI, set up in 2006 with funding from the Centre and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among other private donors, has conducted several training programmes aimed at enhancing competencies of doctors and public health officials.
Its training programmes have spanned chronic health disorders, cancer control, infectious diseases, nutrition and disaster preparedness.
The Healthy Northeast project is also expected to build technical capacity in the northeastern states to conduct original research in public health relevant to the region.