A big shocker for people in general and the Odisha government. The death count in the State due to attendance by untrained doctors or healthcare staff has been the highest in the country.
This hard fact has come as a big embarrassment for the State government, especially when it is betting big on the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) smart cards as a panacea for all ills. The high death rate owing to attendance by untrained health functionaries in the State puts a glare on the dark underbelly of the healthcare delivery system in Odisha.
As per a recently released SBI report, a nation-highest 36 percent of death cases in Odisha saw attendance by untrained health functionaries. Qualified doctors attended to only 15.3 percent of deaths in the State in 2019, a year before the pandemic hit Odisha. In comparison, the national average had been 18.3 percent.
The high number of deaths at the hands of untrained medical practitioners in the State clearly indicates how people in the State are at the receiving end of not having access to proper medical care in State hospitals - PHC (primary healthcare centres) to DHHs (district headquarter hospitals).
After all, the SRS (Sample Registration System) 2019 report released in March this year reveals that nearly one-third of deaths (30.4%) are reported from State-run hospitals. Deaths in private hospitals in the State were only 18.3 percent in 2019.
Buck Stops Where?
The nation-highest deaths owing to attendance by untrained functionaries could well be attributed to large scale vacancies at all levels in the State-run health institutions.
As per a recent affidavit filed by the Odisha Health Department before the CJ S Muralidhar-led division bench of Orissa High Court, as of Dec 7, 2021, against the sanctioned posts of 5,838 general duty medical officers, there is a vacancy in 3,523 posts. Similarly, against sanctioned posts of 2,708 specialist medical officers, 1,211 posts are vacant.
Tip of Iceberg?
The high count of deaths due to lack of access to proper medical care in the State seems to be the tip of the iceberg. Medically certified deaths in the State account for a mere 12.6 percent of total deaths in 2019. The data for pandemic years is yet to be released by the Registrar General of India (RGI).
In the year 2019, the State had recorded a total of 3.42 lakh deaths. The medically certified deaths in the year stood at a mere 43,191.
Killer Diseases In Odisha
As per the Registrar General of India data, a massive 81.6 percent of medically certified deaths in the State have the following underlying health conditions.
- Circulatory system diseases like heart attack, BP etc (22.8%)
- Deaths due to complications prior to delivery (15.3%)
- Symptoms, signs of abnormal clinical conditions and lab findings (12.2%)
- Infections and parasitical diseases (9.3%)
- Diabetes (4.9%)
- Neoplasms (4.5%)
A look at the above disease conditions that carried a high mortality burden in the State clearly indicates the need for trained doctors in Odisha health centres to provide proper clinical treatment to patients admitted to State-run hospitals.