On a drip,rural health mission needs a booster shot

Two prestigious projects started with much fanfare by the Punjab government under the National Rural Health Mission have failed to take off.

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Chandigarh | Published: February 22, 2012 1:03 am

Two prestigious projects started with much fanfare by the Punjab government under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) have failed to take off.

A community hotline started to report instances of female foeticide and give feedback regarding health services has been lying defunct for over two years now. The service,started in October 2009 by the then NRHM Managing Director Anurag Aggarwal on a pilot basis,had initially met with a substantial amount of success.

People were asked to call on a number and give details of cases where a family had indulged in female foeticide. The caller’s identity was protected. The helpline also gave the option to the caller to give feedback regarding government health services and register complaints regarding drinking water,health and sanitation.

However,after the first three months,when the helpline had to be put into service on a regular basis,the project was called off. Despite a series of managing directors who followed Aggarwal,the helpline was not revived.

“We are going to restart the helpline. Now,the high court has also asked us to have a 24-hour telephone service where people can call up the health department and report about services being provided in government hospitals. Reporting on instances of female foeticide can be made a part of it,” said Satish Chandra,Principal Secretary (Health).

NRHM Managing Director S K Sharma added that the pilot project was not very successful and the whole idea was revisited to make it more user friendly. “We will launch the helpline in another week,” he said.

The Mission also seems to have forgotten the ultrasound machine tagging project it had undertaken in May 2011,as part of which,all registered ultrasound machines in the state were to be fixed with silent observers.

The project was announced with much fanfare with the state claiming that it was among the first in the country to adopt the ultrasound tracking technology. The silent observer is a small device,which after it is fixed to the machine,keeps a numeric count of the total number of tests undertaken by it. The device also captured the test reports.

“The aim was to keep a tab on those running ultrasound machines and also getting feedback on the pregnancies tested by the ultrasound centres. This was done to control female foeticide,” said Satish Chandra. The project was to take off last year.

“There were some legal bottlenecks,which the company that manufactures these tags,had to be take care of. Now,we are going ahead with the procurement of the observers,” said Chandra.

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