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80% of public health facilities are substandard: Govt survey

June 29,2024

New Delhi: Nearly 80 per cent of public health facilities in India do not meet the minimum essential standards for infrastructure, manpower, equipment and other benchmarks set by govt.

This shocking detail has emerged from a self-assessment exercise carried out by govt in which public health facilities from states and UTs covered under the National Health Mission (NHM) were asked to fill in details, such as the number of doctors, nurses or basic medical equipment they have.

There are more than two lakh public healthcare facilities, including district hospitals, sub-district hospitals, community health centres, primary health centers, and Ayushman Arogya Mandir (erstwhile sub health centres) that are covered under NHM – a flagship scheme of govt. Of them, data shared by govt on the Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) dashboard shows, 40,451 filled in key statistics about their respective facilities in the Open Data Kit – a digital tool – developed by the health ministry.

When the scoring was done based on the statistics shared, it was revealed that only 8,089, approximately 20% of the facilities, scored 80% or higher which is needed to qualify as IPHS compliant. Simply put, these facilities had the required infrastructure, human resources, drugs, diagnostics and equipment available to provide essential services as desired.

Total 17,190 (42%) of the facilities that participated in the self-assessment exercise scored less than 50% while the rest, 15,172 facilities, scored anywhere between 50 to 80%. All these details have been put out in public domain on the IPHS dashboard. A senior health ministry official said the self-assessment and its real time monitoring has been started to ensure that the health facilities maintain the required standards of infrastructure, equipment, and human resources, leading to better health outcomes and fostering a healthier and more equitable society.

The Centre, an official said, is aiming to make 70,000 health institutions IPHS compliant within the first 100 days of the new govt’s formation. “The aim of this self-assessment exercise is to identify the gaps and push the states/UTs to fill them with full support from the Centre so that quality of services provided to the public improves,” a senior health ministry official said. She added that self-assessment is the first step and the Centre also plans to carry out surprise inspections to verify the claims being made by health facilities against the benchmarks set by IPHS.

While the IPHS assesses health facilities for basic services, National Quality Assurance Standards (NQAS) is another higher level of evaluation which rates them on the basis of best practices followed such as availability of essential medicines, equipment, waste management, infection control practices, support services and patient’s rights. The official said that while NQAS assessment for district hospitals, sub-district hospitals, community health centres and primary health centers will continue to be carried out physically, they have introduced a new provision of virtual assessment for the Ayushman Arogya Mandir that constitute the highest number of public health facilities under NHM.

The Centre bears 60 per cent of the expenditure in a public health facilities under the NHM while the rest of the expenditure is borne by the state.

Source: Healthworld

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