Healthcare at rural doorstep - Dispur launches scheme to send doctors to homes in 15000 villages from Jan.

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  • Published 8.11.10

Guwahati, Nov. 7: Healthcare in Assam will no longer remain confined to hospitals and dispensaries.

Come January, Dispur will take healthcare to the doorsteps of people living in villages and remote parts of the state.

Assam health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today announced that an ambitious scheme, on the lines of the raijor padulit raijor sarkar (people’s government at people’s doorstep) would be launched in January 2011 to make healthcare accessible to people at home and in villages.

“Teams of doctors and health department officials will start visiting 15,000 villages to conduct a check-up, treat ailing people and solve various health and medical problems in their households. If visiting every house becomes problematic, a common public place like a namghar, mosque or local club will be selected to conduct such health check-up,” Sarma said. He was speaking at the inaugural function of 104 service, a toll free call service for people seeking medical advice.

The minister said the government had already reached an agreement with a private party to execute the project.

“For the elderly and physically weak, visiting hospitals and health centres to conduct tests for various ailments is an ordeal. Many such patients always prefer to avoid the hospital and thus they remain untreated. Under the Right to Health Act, the government cannot let these patients remain in such condition and thus it was decided to take healthcare delivery system to their doorsteps. Medicines will also be distributed at people’s houses,” Sarma said.

The minister said Assam has become the second state in the country, after Andhra Pradesh, to implement the 104 service for round-the-clock medical advice service. He said the service would revolutionise the healthcare system in the state as the present call centre has the capability of receiving 1.2 lakh calls everyday.

The service, called 104 Sarathi, is being implemented on a public-private-partnership model. The state government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hyderabad-based Health Management and Research Institute to introduce the service.

Patients can make calls to the centre and these will be diverted to respective doctors after assessing the nature of illness. In case the ailment is found to be serious or of a critical nature, he or she will be advised to go to a hospital and a 108 ambulance will be sent to his home. Medicines will be prescribed to those callers whose ailments do not need hospital intervention.

Sarma said the service would also be very useful for patients who are reluctant to go to hospitals and health centres to disclose or discuss ailments like AIDS because of the social stigma attached to the disease.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, while inaugurating the service, said his government was committed to making the healthcare service not only easily available but also affordable.

He said the government would launch various other schemes aimed at giving benefits to economically underprivileged people.