The Meghalaya cabinet has approved the initiation of postgraduate diploma courses for addressing the shortage of specialist doctors in Meghalaya to reduce MMR and IMR.
Driven by an objective to address the Clinical dimension aspect that is one of the three identified dimensions contributing to high MMR and IMR in Meghalaya, the state government has approved a policy for addressing the shortage of medical specialists in the state.
This 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.
The Meghalaya government has also partnered with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)- Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH).
Under this initiative, the district hospitals will witness the strengthening of their capital infrastructure as well as the staffing of specialists.
It is anticipated that the presence of postgraduate trainees in the hospital round the year will lead to better services and higher utilisation.
Meghalaya 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.
It may be mentioned here that CPS is one of the oldest postgraduate medical education institutions in India.
Speaking on this policy, Sampath Kumar, Commissioner & Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare said, "Around 7000 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 pregnant mothers to reach the nearest PHCs/CHCs," he added.
"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, anesthesiologists and radiologists are fundamental for saving mothers and children in the State," he further said.
He further said that the policy was aimed at addressing this gap and building the health system in the long run.
"Currently, there are 141 vacancies in the State but there are no medical specialists to fill up the posts. Of course, getting admission for post-graduation specialisation is not an easy task but it is time to nip this problem in the bud," he further said.
"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," he added.
It may be mentioned that since the month of May 2020, the Meghalaya government has upped its ante against high MMR and IMR by conducting regular weekly meetings with all districts to effect a granular monitoring system of Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child, Adolescent Health (RMNCH).
The close monitoring has led to an increase in data reporting thereby initiating discussions and sensitizing the masses about the seriousness of the situation.
The maternal mortality status of Meghalaya is 182 per live one lakh deliveries, which is higher than the national average of 122 per one lakh deliveries.
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