Assam Veeds Improvement in Health Status of Children and Women
While Assam has made progress in its health indicators, it further needs to strengthen its existing health services especially the rural healthcare to be able to achieve significant improvement in the status of its women and children, according to Dr Ashok K Agarwal, the Delhi Dean of International lnstitute of Health Management Research(IIHMR).
The most recent summary data put out by the 4th National Family Health Survey shows that while Assam has succeeded in improving its health indicators, the current situation leaves a lot more room for improvement. For instance, while the coverage of antenatal checkups for pregnant women went up from 23.5 per cent in NFHS3 to 46.5 per cent in NFHS 4, there is still room to double that coverage.
Similarly, one in two women receive post-natal services currently, a significant improvement over the one in seven women that received these services in 2006-7, but leaves behind half of all the new mothers.
Such strengthening of services to improve maternal and child outcomes in the state will require substantial investment of additional resources, in money and personnel terms. IIHMR Delhi recommends that the number of health personnel in primary and secondary healthcare system in Assam should be as per the NHM guidelines and an increased health budget for the state to the tune should be twice of existing health budget over the next five years.
Dr Agarwal also said that 50 per cent dependency on private hospitals by urban population is adding to the healthcare bill extensively in the state and needs to be tackled immediately.
Select current health indicators for Assam:
» Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) 48 (As per NFHS IV)
» Under 5 mortality Rate (U5MR) 56 (As per NFHS IV)
» Full Vaccination Coverage 47% (As per NFHS IV)
» Children’s Nutritional status (children age below 5 years who are underweight is 29.8%) – (As per NFHS IV)
» Anemia among children (children age 6-59 months who are anemic 35.7%) -(As per NFHS IV)
» Underweight women with BMI below normal 25.7% (As per NFHS IV)
» Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) 300 (as per SRS Bulletin 2011-13)
» Life expectancy at birth 63.6 for men and 64.8 for women, national average stands at 67.3 and 69.6 respectively
Assam is the most populous state from the North Eastern region of India and comprises nearly 70 per cent population of the entire region of seven states also known as Seven Sisters. The state, with over three crore population as per the Census 2011 data, has nearly 86 per cent population residing in rural areas and only around 14 per cent population in urban areas.
The state expenditure on public health in 2012-13 was a total of INR 1,539 crore out of which 1353 crore were spent in medical and public health, 185 crore were spent in family welfare schemes. In its budget for 2016-17, the Sarbananda Sonowal government has allocated approximately INR 3,994 crore for health and family welfare schemes that includes several new initiatives targeted at improving the healthcare infrastructure in the state including making 200 bed cancer hospital operational in Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, establishing cancer units in government medical colleges of Jorhat, Tezpur, Silcher and Barpeta. It also plans to add many facilities related to cardiac care, dialysis and IVF in the GMCH.