Healthy people make a healthy state. For every government, affordable and state-of-the-art patient care should be a key responsibility. I believe the concept of a healthy state rests on the principle of ‘PYRAMID’. The foundation of the pyramid has to be solid in order to support the superstructure of a robust healthcare system. Only then will a state be healthy and grow strong.
The PYRAMID of health :
P – Patient-centric
Y – Young age
R – Rural care
A – Affordability and availability
M – Medicine
I – Infrastructure
D – Doctor
Let me put this in the context of Maharashtra. In the past eight years, I have travelled the length and breadth of our state as part of the ‘Epilepsy Project’. While the government is taking measures to reach out to the poor and the people in rural areas, the situation has not improved to the extent that it should have.
Poverty continues to remain one of the biggest concerns in our country. Many problems can be solved if more people have access to food and livelihood, especially in rural areas. That apart, if we focus solely on healthcare, in the present scenario, our government’s priority should be to ensure medical facilities are accessible to all.
The first step towards this is to build solid healthcare infrastructure across the state so that medical practitioners are inclined to practise even in the remotest areas. This, along with decent pay packets, will definitely attract doctors to every corner of the state. The second most important thing would be ready availability of medicines in government hospitals so that everyone has access to medicines.
The reason I highlighted these two aspects is people in rural areas depend on the government for doctors and medicines. Once these are in place, healthcare systems, especially in rural areas, will improve drastically.
After this comes, improving healthcare facilities to the extent that advanced and timely treatment is available in every part of the state. At present, people in rural and semi-rural areas are forced to travel long distances for specialist care. A state can be healthy only if the district, sub-district and primary health centres function efficiently.
The government should focus on revamping these facilities in association with healthcare giants, either independently or through Public Private Partnership (PPP). So, when a patient enters a hospital, they should feel encouraged. Our run-down government hospitals do not offer that sense of security.
The aim should be to provide medical facility to all regardless the patient’s background. Medical facilities should not be a privilege but priority for all. Apart from decent pay, the government should also focus on developing medical infrastructure in rural areas to encourage doctors to work in those parts of the state.
Once the basics are in place, the focus should turn to super speciality. This can be achieved again through PPP, wherein the government ropes in private hospitals and makes it mandatory for them to provide services in the rural areas. If this happens, a large part of the population can have access to advanced healthcare. Even doctors should come forward and do their bit in helping those with limited means but in dire need of medical care.
In addition, the government should make sure every newborn is provided with health insurance. Once this is in place, every person, especially the poor, will be assured of treatment. I believe, this move has the power to change the script of healthcare in Maharashtra, and go a long way in achieving the dream of Healthy Maharashtra.
The author is a Neurologist, Founder Trustee & Chairman Epilepsy Foundation of India