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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Gurudijhatia PHC in Athagarh was closed when a woman in labour waited there and later had delivery complication that resulted in the death of the newborn. But Gurudijhatia PHC is not the only one, there are as many as 344 such functional PHCs in the State that fail to provide 24X7 healthcare services.

Though the State seems claiming big with schemes like Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, Mamata et al, the embarrassing fact is in the 24X7 functional PHCs parameter, Odisha fares poorer than backward (BIMARU) states like Bihar, MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand, except UP.

Sample this. As per the data available with Niti Aayog, Odisha is in the bottom -10 among the 21 major states having 24 X7 functional PHCs. Chhattisgarh topped with a proportion of 111.4 per cent followed by Assam and Madhya Pradesh. Bihar with half of its PHCs functioning 24X7, made it to the top-10 in the country.

Moreover, when Odisha could make only 47 PHCs function 24X7 in the three year period of 2015-18,  the number achieved by Bihar was 589.

As per the latest MMR (Maternal Mortality Ratio) data, Odisha with a figure of 180 stood 4th highest in the country. And Unicef has blamed lack of FRUs ( First Referral Units).

When it is mandated to develop every Community Health Centres as FRUs (First Referral Units) in the State, Niti Aayog data shows a whopping 117 CHCs, from a total of 377, that are yet to be declared as FRUs. The pace of declaring FRUs in Odisha is worse than Assam. When Assam declared 37 CHCs as FRUs during the period 2015-18, Odisha could declare mere 15 CHCs as FRUs.

Why the State Government is slow in either declaring PHCs as 24X7 or CHCs as FRUs?  It is for the high rate of vacancy at all levels.

Consider this. Odisha’s PHCs and CHCs in 2013 had in-position strength of doctors and specialists totalling 1,335. The in-position strength of doctors and specialists in 2016 dipped to around 1,313. But in 2018, the in-position strength of doctors and specialists dipped further to 1,170.

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