With an aim to strengthen health systems and explore emergent avenues and platforms for collaboration between various agencies and stakeholders in the north-east region, the second North East Health Care Summit 2017 was organized by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in partnership with the Ministry of Development of the North East Region (MDoNER), the Government of Sikkim and the Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital (STNM) on the 8th and 9th September. This also marks the centenary celebrations of the S.T.N.M. hospital in Gangtok.
The summit was inaugurated by Sikkim's Ministerof Healthcare, Human Services and Family Welfare, Arjun Kumar Ghatani along with Member of Parliament from Sikkim PD Rai. Also present on the occasion were Alok Kumar Srivastav, Chief Secretary, Sikkim, Dr. K Bhandari, Director-General-cum Secretary Health, Sikkim, Mr. Jayanto Narayan Choudhury, Vice President PHFI, Dr. KB Gurung, Medical Superintendent STNM Hospital along with a host of senior government health officials from all the north eastern states of India.
In his address, Arjun Kumar Ghatani, Minister, Healthcare, Human Services and Family Welfare, Sikkim, congratulated the organisers - PHFI, STNM Hospital and DoNER for organizing the second edition of the North East Healthcare Summit in Sikkim that highlights key issues in today's evolving healthcare scenario pertinent to Northeastern parts of India.
"Health records and parameters in Sikkim are the best amongst northeastern states, for which I would congratulate our Chief Minister for his visionary leadership because of which the government-backed Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-up for Healthy Sikkim (CATCH Sikkim) now reaches out to people even in the remotest areas of the state. But poor healthcare services in the Northeast and the need to enhance manpower, including setting up of more medical colleges in the region the requirement of the day. There is an urgent need to review the progress of schemes sanctioned by centre or the NEC towards the improvement of healthcare services in the region, especially infrastructure, in addition to finding out better ways and means to remove health problems and inaccessibility to quality healthcare especially in rural areas of the region."
Ghatani also appealed to the attending delegates specially attending health officials from other north east states and other organizations to work towards the improvement of healthcare services in the this region, and come-up with a time bound whitepaper which can be implemented immediately.
In her video address, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Director General ICMR, said, "Northeast is one of the most vibrant regions in India, but its health indicators have unfortunately lagged behind rest of India on many counts. With so much technological and infrastructure advancements, it is time to bring about a rapid improvement in the public health indicators, especially in light of the renewed commitment by the central government towards the entire North-east region."
Lamenting that there is an absence of private sector interest and investment in North East, and hoping that the central government under its look east policy will allocate increased resources towards healthcare in this region, Mr. PD Rai, Member of Parliament from Sikkim said, "I am happy that this summit has brought together political leaders, policy makers, healthcare professionals and implementers once again on a common platform to deliberate upon strategies for meeting public health challenges for the northeastern region. There is an urgent need to engage amongst ourselves in the sister states for enhancing public health and advancing technology in this region, ensuring better reach, quality and coverage of health services."
Jayanto Narayan Choudhury, Vice President, Public Health Foundation of India, said, "Already active in the region through its various capacity building and training programmes, Public Health Foundation of India, and its affiliate Indian Institute of Public Health in Shillong, aim to improve health outcomes in the entire Northeast region through educational, research, training, policy and advocacy activities. With a view to complement various state and national level health initiatives, PHFI will happy to actively assist all the 8 NE states to come up with a forward looking plan to improve the health scenario in the entire region, and so that NE becomes a major healthcare hub for entire Southeast Asia."
He said, "The 2nd North east Healthcare summit comes at a time when we are thick and thin into our centenary celebrations. Through this summit we further commit ourselves at STNM to aim higher towards providing high quality super-speciality patient care services, and undertake medical and community Health Research further. Through the outcomes of the deliberations, we will augment the vision of the summit to develop Human Resources in all fields related to health and facilitate the North Eastern States in framing better health policies as envisioned in the National Health Policy 2017 by the centre."
Health care has emerged as one of the most challenging sectors as well as one of the largest service sector in India which constitutes around 6% of India's GDP and employs over 4 million people. Though India is witnessing some remarkable improvements in healthcare across the country, North-eastern states are still lagging behind in meeting the required healthcare standards. The north eastern states account for only 3.8% of India's total population but the diverse and sparse population, geographical and socio-political constraints, along with connectivity to mainland and other states hamper the implementation of health programmes. As a result, despite being the most vibrant regions in the country, North-East lags behind in its health indicators. As with other regions of the country, the major issues with healthcare delivery in north-eastern states are lack of infrastructure and manpower. This is further accentuated by the organizational and systemic and operational and management issues. The challenges in scaling up public health efforts in the north eastern states - across a wide spectrum of programme needs - can be strategically tackled by high-quality, skilled workforce and by initiating and carrying out transformational reforms in health policy development and design of appropriate structures and processes for their effective implementation. It also requires a strong coordination, management, and technical capacity.
This year's 2nd Northeast Healthcare summit concentrated on emerging health concerns in the region with a special emphasis on the current scenario in North East and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The themes for this year's summit were: Mental Health & Substance Abuse, Non-Communicable Diseases, Health Policy, Service Delivery & Health Systems Strengthening, and Environmental Health.
Leading health care professionals, hospitals, government health departments from all North East States, academia, multilateral, bilateral, bilateral organisations and other stakeholders took active part in the summit and will, through the outcomes of the summit, provide a roadmap to develop technical assistance to the state governments of the North-East States engaging civil society partners for implementation of public health projects and programs in NE.
The summit falls under the umbrella of Project Swasth Uttar Purv, under the aegis of DoNER Ministy that is committed to address the identified and felt needs of the eight states of the North-East by promoting policy and programme relevant research, by filling critical information gaps, conducting health summits and Health Conclaves, conducting impact assessments and cancer awareness programs, evaluating innovations for improving the outreach and effectiveness of health systems, ultimately developing a robust public health cadre in the North East.
One the sidelines of the summit, a Healthcare Media interactive workshop was conducted as a pre-cursor to the Summit, that provided media with nuances of healthcare criticalities and development in the state, and the Northeastern region so that press reporting on health issues can be strengthened and acknowledged actively in publications.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)