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Karnataka plans overhaul of primary health centres, more beds, better infra on cards

Making the announcement, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said that budgetary allocation for the health department would be raised to fund the infrastructure upgrade at the PHCs.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: December 25, 2020 8:13:44 am
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa held a meeting with the medical education minister and officials to upgrade the existing Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) across the state to function as 24/7 clinics.

In a bid to revamp public healthcare facilities in the state, the Karnataka government on Thursday announced plans to upgrade infrastructure at 2,359 primary healthcare centres (PHCs) across the state and create a model network connecting them.

Making the announcement, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said that budgetary allocation for the health department would be raised to fund the infrastructure upgrade at the PHCs.

“The infrastructure of all 2359 PHCs in the state will be modernised and the bed capacity will be increased to 12 or 20 beds. They will be boosted by modern equipment, staff strength and enhanced services,” the CM said.

He also put forward a plan to overcome staff-shortage and related issues. “Since it is compulsory to undergo one-year training at rural government hospitals after completion of the MBBS course, these candidates will be appointed to PHCs to overcome staff shortage,” the CM said.

In a meeting convened by the CM at his home-office ‘Krishna’, Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar presented a detailed plan on how a network of model PHCs could be established. He also put forward a plan to enable these rudimentary health centres with modern equipment so that they can offer emergency medical services round the clock.

Elaborating his plan, Sudhakar said each PHC will have three or four doctors, including an AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) practitioner and a female doctor, instead of a single medical officer. “The PHC building will also include facilities such as Yoga and wellness centre, a well-equipped laboratory to facilitate basic blood and other tests, a radiology centre with an X-ray unit, good quality cameras and TVs to facilitate expert doctor consultation through telemedicine,” he said.

Presently, each PHC in Karnataka caters to 30,000 people. “Our project is aimed at constructing new PHCs to fill the gap, as well as upgrading the existing ones. The current bed capacity of PHCs will be increased from 6 to between 12 and 20,” Sudhakar said.

On issues faced by doctors and other healthcare professionals, Sudhakar — a qualified doctor himself — said that lack of good housing facilities is the main reason why doctors are usually hesitant when it comes to serving in rural areas. “In a bid to address this issue, model PHCs will also include residential facilities, with 2 BHK housing for doctors and 1 BHK facilities for nurses and ANM (Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery) staff members,” he said, stressing that the plan would also ensure staff availability at any given point of time.

The government also plans to establish e-hospital facilities at all PHCs to help them connect with super-specialty hospitals. “Even a small X-ray report could then be reviewed by specialist doctors of a super specialty hospital,” Sudhakar said.

According to top health officials, the government has also planned to upgrade community health centres as part of the initiative. “Taluk and district hospitals will be modernised. The bed strength of district hospitals will be augmented from 200 to between 500 and 700,” an official said.

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