COVID-19 has changed the priorities of health systems around the world. However, Meghalaya’s healthcare system faces major inadequacies barring North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Medical Science none of the Government hospitals are well equipped.
Some of the challenges of our healthcare system are facing today are lack of awareness, lack of accessibility as some of the hospitals and PHC centers are in such places where there are no motorable roads to go there and lastly workforce shortages.
DEPLORABLE ROAD CONDITIONS: HEALTH SECTOR IN SHAMBLES?
Despite several claims, due to deplorable road conditions in the state, the health care system continues to remain to be out of reach for the people living in the remote corner of Meghalaya.
Some recent posts on social media about villagers carrying pregnant women on a make-shift bamboo stretcher to the point where the vehicle could not reach so that she could deliver the baby at the hospital rightly point out about the deplorable road condition in the rural Meghalaya where many people cannot reach health care centers for treatment.
PREGNANT WOMEN HAVE TO WALK 5 TO 10 KM TO REACH HEALTH CARE CENTRES: A.L HEK
Stating that pregnant women either have to walk 5 to 10 km to reach health care centers or are brought in bamboo or makeshift stretcher, Health Minister AL Hek said, “I know the hardship that people are facing particularly mother and child health as pregnant women have to walk km after km maybe 5 to 10 Kilometers to reach the health centers (PHCs or CHCS).”
Hek added, “So from the health department, we have taken up the decision and we are going to strengthen the health care system in the state particularly to strengthen the labour room and also to encourage institutional delivery.”
A news report pulled everyone’s focus that lack of an entrenched institutional delivery system caused the death of 877 infants in just 4 months, while 61 pregnant women have died due to lack of medical attention, pneumonia, and birth asphyxia.
Commenting on social media post about villagers carrying pregnant women on make-shift bamboo stretcher till the point where the vehicle could not reach, Hek said, “I have seen in rural areas they have to carry people in bamboo stretchers or wooden stretchers that is because of the road conditions, this is not because of health condition but because of road condition and that’s why I am saying you whenever villages face this kind of problem we at the Government need to address the issue.”
This raises the question, Why are the cases of infant mortality so high in Meghalaya? Why do women not want to go for institutional delivery?
If health centers are so far away, how will Meghalaya fight COVID if incase of any eventualities, a critical patient from rural areas cannot be brought to health centers?
Recently, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said, “We have gone the extra mile in trying to fight COVID, Is there a perfect system most probably not, I think what is important is to keep improving on it and look forward to possible outcomes.”
Blame it on the Health department or PWD, it is evident that deplorable road condition is the biggest challenge for Meghalaya to provide better health care facilities to the people residing in nooks and corners of the state. It may be mentioned that the upgrading of the health infrastructure is expected to start from early next year but what about developing road infrastructure? EOM