Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bihar surges ahead in health while UP lags behind

State shows improvement in a short period

Sopan Correspondent / Patna

Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh suffered from myriad problems in the health sector for decades, plagued by issues ranging from high infant mortality rate, low immunization and poor reach of the state health care mechanism in the rural areas. However, Bihar has now surged ahead on several health parameters while UP has lagged behind.

Recently Bihar impressed the World Bank with its parameters in health and general development indices which resulted in an aid worth several hundred crores for development of the state. The state came out with schemes like appointment of doctors on contract in the rural areas and ending the practice of absentee doctors which had been going on for a long time.

Ironically, this is not the case of UP which has lagged behind Bihar even though it was ahead of the state in health parameters a few years ago.

Figures from the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) are pointers to the surge of Bihar in the health sector. Number of institutional deliveries - the chief tool to curb infant, neonatal and maternal mortality rates - in Bihar stood at 2.37 lakh in 2005. Five years since, a five-fold increase has been recorded in the state with the help of several schemes to promote institutional delivery. In UP, however, the progress hasn't been much and is a cause for concern now for the health workers and experts in the field. Compared to the figure of 19.22 lakh in 2005, number of women delivering babies in recognised health care centres didn't even double by 2010.

Routine immunisation is another example of poor health infrastructure in UP. As of now, four out of five children in UP aren't fully immunized. In Bihar, the ratio of children is much better than its neighbour. Figures show that Bihar's rate of immunisation stood at merely 10% during the first National Family Health Survey which grew to 33% in NFHS-3. In UP, 19.8% were fully immunised during the time of NFHS-1 while the figure rose to 23% in NFHS-3.

In a new initiative, the Bihar government has chalked out a new agenda to streamline the health sector across the state in which the priorities include opening up of super-speciality hospital of every major disease, upgradation of primary health centres to 30-bed community health centres, setting up nine modern trauma centres, provision of treatment and medicines under ayush stream in every hospital, making functional all health centres 24x7 and bringing down infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) rate below the national average.

Compared to 2008 figure, IMR in Bihar has come down to 52 percent from the previous 56 percent, which is just two percentage above the national average of 50 percent.

Similarly, efforts are on to bring at par the reproduction rate which, at present, stands at 3.9 compared to the national average of 2.7.

Every health centre at block level has been made functional 24x7 so that they can be upgraded to 30-bed community health centres. Similarly, additional primary health centres (APHCs) too are being upgraded and those which have got their own building and have doctors available, would be made functional 24x7.

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