Roundtable to disseminate results of the North East Public Health Framework Study held in Shillong
A one-day roundtable was co-hosted by the government of Meghalaya and the Bengaluru Center for Budget and Policy Studies on Friday. It was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from the states of Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
The objective of the roundtable was to discuss the findings of a study conducted by the Center for Budget and Policy Studies titled “Does the North East Need a Public Health Framework: A Study of Four Northeastern States” which was conducted during the second half of 2021.
The study looked in depth at Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland from the perspective of public health landscape, health budgets, current administrative structure and essential public health functions for understand whether these states would benefit from the presence of a public health framework. .
The second CBPS study examined the current landscape of the Masters in Public Health program in the country. The study was led by the director of the Bangalore Center for Budget and Policy Studies, Dr. Jyotsna Jha, with support from the Thakur Foundation.
The CBPS study on the feasibility of the public health framework for NE states highlighted the following: NE states performed better than the national average on MCH indicators. There was a heavy reliance on central funding for public health (through the NHM). Some essential public health functions (EPHFs) such as research and innovations, ensuring a competent public health workforce, were almost non-existent in the four states. 4) There was a severe shortage of trained public health professionals in all four states, and as a result specialist physicians filled PH positions.
Speaking at the conference, Meghalaya Government Principal Secretary for Health, Sampath Kumar, said that there should be emphasis on the need for joint public health programs in various states to address the shortage of medical specialists in north eastern states of India. .
He also articulated the need to follow a three-dimensional approach to health by also emphasizing preventive care, which encompasses promotive care, curative care and the enabling dimension.
He added that before the COVID-19 pandemic, health care was mostly limited to curative care.
The pandemic has raised awareness that the health system now needs to be strengthened with much greater public health capacity. Appropriate investments must be made, both in terms of infrastructure and in terms of human resources, in order to have the skills required to carry out public health programmes.
It can be mentioned that the health policy of Meghalaya, which came into force in May 2021, ensures that the emphasis of health also shifts from preventive care to only curative care, in order to create a healthy and productive population, while also focusing on creating an enabling environment. dimension, by empowering communities to become producers of health services and not just recipients, such as through newly created institutions like Village Health Councils (VHCs) in Meghalaya.
Meghalaya Government Additional Secretary Ram Kumar opened the panel discussion and emphasized that before embarking on creating a public health framework, it is important for the state to review its public health system and achieves a framework structure that works best. for them.
Participants from the five states undertook a group exercise to assess the status of essential public health functions in each of the states.
In the process of assessing their state on the different Essential Public Health Functions (EPHF), participants were able to reflect on current gaps and come up with likely solutions to improve those gaps.
Therefore, through this exercise, participants were able to reflect on the fact that a thorough understanding of the gaps in their public health system/functions is a prerequisite for a public health framework.
A presentation was also made on a study that mapped Masters in Public Health courses in India.
From the study, it was found that there are currently 105 facilities offering MPH in India, but only 4 of these facilities are in the North East. Only 37% of establishments were public establishments.
However, students struggled with high tuition fees (average of 2.9 lakhs for private institutions and 87,000 for public institutions), insufficient online course information and poor field immersions. There is also currently no accrediting agency for MPH in India.
A short presentation highlighting IIPH-Shillong’s contribution to public health education in the North East was also given during the panel discussion.