The Meghalaya government has initiated a major initiative to address the shortage of medical specialists in the state for reducing the high maternal and infant mortality rate.
The Meghalaya Cabinet recently approved postgraduate courses to meet the shortage of specialist doctors to reduce MMR and IMR.
The initiative has been taken to with an objective to address the clinical dimension aspect that is one of the three identified dimensions contributing to high maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) in Meghalaya.
The policy will be implemented through the Adoption of Alternate models for Responding to Shortage of medical specialists (ADARSH) project.
“This project is an attempt to scale up alternate models for responding to the critical shortage of medical specialists in the state by training doctors in the public sector,” said a government press communique.
To further this, the Meghalaya government has partnered with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)- Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH).
Under this initiative, the district hospitals will witness a strengthening of their capital infrastructure as well as the staffing of specialists.
It is anticipated that the presence of postgraduate trainees in the hospital around the year will lead to better services and higher utilization.
The state has also adopted a College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPS) model which allows the state government to reserve all seats for candidates who are domiciles of the state and preference is given to in-service doctors.
CPS is one of the oldest post graduate medical education institutions in India.
It has been recognised that medical specialists are scarce in Meghalaya and availability of specialists like gynaecologists, paediatricians, anaesthesiologists and radiologists is crucial to provide care to high risk pregnant mothers and low birth weight children as well as to conduct CS operations.
It has been identified that critical and specialist health workforce is important to achieve health and wider development objectives over the next few decades.
Speaking on this policy, Sampath Kumar, commissioner and secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare said, “Around 7,000 villages are remotely located and therefore, there are glaring geographical challenges in reaching out to people in far flung areas.”
“It becomes even more challenging for the pregnant mothers to reach the nearest PHCs/CHCs.”
“Further, whenever a woman whose pregnancy has been identified as a high risk and a complicated one approaches the nearest health centre, presence of specialists like gynaecologists, paediatricians, anaesthesiologists and radiologists are fundamental for saving mothers and children in the state,” Kumar added.
This policy is aimed at addressing this gap and building the health system in the long run, Kumar further said throwing more light on the policy.
Currently, there are 141 vacancies in the state but there are no medical specialists to fill up the posts, he said.
“Of course, getting admission for post-graduation specialisation is not an easy task but it is time to nip this problem in the bud. If this is left to be continued like this, it will be extremely difficult to reduce the state’s MMR and IMR in the absence of specialists.”
“The vision is that in the next 5-10 years, we should be able to train our own in-service doctors who can be positioned even at the remote CHC level,” the commissioner and secretary said.