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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: When Odisha sits dubiously at the top in the country for having fewer beds in rural health centres, CM Naveen Patnaik’s nod on Monday  to increase beds only in the district headquarters hospitals on the recommendation of 5T team led by 5T secretary VK Pandian seems skewed.

Sample the festering yawning rural-urban divide. The State health department data reveals that Odisha has 149 urban hospitals (Sub-divisional and District Headquarters Hospital). The bed availability here stood at a high of 12,180. So the beds per hospital stands at a massive around 82. And urban population has been estimated at around 70 lakh.

In contrast, Odisha with a total of 1,659 rural hospitals, have 6,339 beds. These figures show the bed availability per rural hospital in Odisha as mere 4, when the population is a massive 3.8 crore.

But a glance at the data available with Central Health Directorate reveals that there are 11,504 rural public health facilities in the country. And the bed availability has been pegged at over 2.09 lakh. These figures show the beds per rural hospitals nationally has been 19.

Consider how the bed availability deteriorated in rural centres. As on March 31, 2017, only 60 Community Health Centres (CHC) had at least 30 beds in Odisha. But now only 46 CHCs have 30 beds! The reminder here is Odisha has 377 CHCs.

Not only CHCs. The condition in PHCs (Primary Healthcare Centres) is more pathetic. Only 37 PHCs had at least 4-beds by March end 2017. As on March 31, 2018, the numbers dwindled to a measly 26. The fact to be noted here is Odisha has 1,360 PHCs.

So, in proportionate terms, only 2 per cent PHCs in Odisha have 4 beds vis-a-vis 3 per cent in 2016-17. And only around 12 per cent CHCs have at least 30 beds against 16 per cent in 2016-17.

For this dip, Odisha has topped the dubious list of states with least number of beds in rural hospitals nationally.

Nationally, only north-eastern States like Mizoram, Manipur and hilly States like Himachal are behind Odisha in rural hospital beds. Because, PHC and CHCs cater to rural populace.

Despite the prevailing reality, significantly, CM Naveen Patnaik on Monday didn't sanction increase in bed capacity in CHCs and PHCs. Because, his 5T team led by VK Pandian visited only District Headquarter Hospitals (DHH) that basically cater to urban areas in a district.

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