In an effort to ensure that all children below the age of five are immunised, the Left Front government in Kerala has made vaccination certificate mandatory for admission to class-I from the next academic session. Health Minister K K Shailaja on Tuesday said that the government is committed to achieving total immunisation in Kerala.
The state Cabinet on Tuesday ratified the draft medical policy, which, among others, proposes a standard treatment guideline covering all hospitals, including private medical institutions, to ensure “rationale, effective and affordable treatment”. To increase transparency, private hospitals will have to publicise treatment procedure and cost of every treatment, according to the draft policy.
In another big announcement, the draft says transgender clinics will be set up at all district hospitals in a bid to bring them under the state’s health system. With 2-per cent of Kerala’s population suffering from acute mental ailments, and 12.8 percent children facing mental disorders, psychiatric medical facilities will be increased in all major hospitals in the government sector.
The draft policy also says that an antibiotic guidelines committee will be formed to prepare an antibiotic policy. Generic names of medicines will be made mandatory in prescriptions (to stop doctors from prescribing expensive variants of the same medicines). The policy has set short- and long-term goals, apart from making suggestions to address Kerala’s new health challenges, healthcare needs of the weaker sections, and migrant workers.
Stating that Kerala’s health sector has been a model for other states, minister Shailaja said, “One of the major challenges is spiraling cost of treatment, as growing treatment cost has turned many people into paupers. Privatisation of the health sector, changes in medical technology and emergence of new medicines, failure of governments to strengthen and modernise the public health sector — all have contributed to this situation.”
The government, thus, has “brought out the new health policy which will work as a guideline for the future course of action in the health sector,’’ she said. The draft says that a comprehensive health information system, which will cover medical records of patients from all hospitals, will be launched without compromising privacy of patients. It will store information on various diseases and treatments. The e-health system in the state will be expanded for this, the draft states.
As a short-term goal, the policy aims to bring down maternal mortality from 66 per lakh to 30 and infant mortality from 12 to eight. Besides, neonatal mortality should be brought down from seven to five, it says. According to the draft, establishment of a health system that is universal, free of cost and comprehensive is a major long-term goal. Healthy longevity and bringing infant and maternal mortality rates on a par with developed nations are among other long-term goals.
1) A new Kerala Public Health Act will be introduced to cover all issues in the health sector. As Kerala hospitals generate 50 tonnes of biomedical waste daily, a central biomedical waste treatment and disposal facility will be set up.
2) To attend to growing number of accident victims, trauma care centres will be set up on state and national highways at a distance of 10 km. It will be supported by an ambulance network on the Uber cab model.
3) An all-Kerala cancer registry will be formed. A clinical diagnostic and technology council will be formed to streamline lab and imaging sectors.
4) As 3 per cent of the state’s population suffers from disability, steps will be taken for their rehabilitation and address other health issues.