People's model for health scheme rethink

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  • Published 6.12.06

Siliguri, Dec. 6: Adopting a bottom-up approach to healthcare planning, the state government has for the first time decided to involve common people in preparing the health plan for 2007-2008.

“Earlier the government and the health department used to decide for the people and formulate the plans in terms of schemes and budget,” Darjeeling chief medical officer of health (CMOH), Subir Bhowmik, told The Telegraph. “But now, following the China model, the idea is to involve even people from the grassroots in the whole process.”

In order to do so, the panchayat machinery has also been made a part of health planning for the first time.

“It is a total change of mindset,” said Mani Thapa, Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad sabhadhipati and chairperson of the district health committee. “The aim is to offer need-based healthcare and it is the people, in collaboration with the health department, who will assess what their needs are and how those can be fulfilled.”

Bhowmik said the process would help the department come up with tailor-made schemes for the people. “For example, the tribal belt has its set of unique problems, which a general plan will not adequately cover. Through this process we will identify these specific problems and prepare schemes accordingly,” he added.

The state-wide process began yesterday in Darjeeling district with a two-day workshop for trainers who will teach block and panchayat-level resource persons how to draw up the needs plan. CARE, an NGO, is coordinating the whole affair.

“The grassroots-level workers will submit their findings to their block level counterparts, who in turn will report to the district-level resource persons and so on,” said Bhowmik.

From reproductive child health, immunisation to communicable diseases, all health issues enumerated under National Rural Health Mission would be covered, the health chief said. “Our district’s aim is to bring down the infant mortality rate, which is 40-42 per cent compared to the state average of 38 per cent,” he added.