Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sick state of health in Madhya Pradesh!

View point Central Chronicle, Bhopal

Indore, Feb 16: Shivraj Singh government may receive laurels for his governance and pushing the state on the path of development, everything is not well as far as state of health in Madhya Pradesh is concerned. If one goes by the latest human development report of Madhya Pradesh, the state of health in Madhya Pradesh is far from satisfactory.

This is reflected from the latest estimate for longevity, measured as life expectancy at birth, which was 59 years for males and 58 years for females (corresponding to period 2002-06). As per the latest estimate on longevity as quoted in the Human Development Report 2007, the life expectancy for males and females in Madhya Pradesh was the lowest among all the major states in India and a good four to eight years lower than the national average.

States like Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnatakka and Kerala have better life expectancy at birth as compared to Madhya Pradesh. Even the state of Bihar which is counted among one of the most backward states in the country, life expectancy at birth for males and females (2001-06) stood at 65.66 years and 64.79 years respectively, much higher than that of Madhya Pradesh.

What has been found to be more surprising that while naturally female life expectancy should be more than male life expectancy, it is just the opposite in Madhya Pradesh, pointing towards discriminatory practices against both the girl child and women, leading to higher mortality rate.

Similarly, state's performance on the infant mortality rate (IMR) and the maternal mortality rate (MMR), is far below than the national average. IMR is related to combination of factors including poor nutrition for their mothers while pregnant, inadequate immunization of mothers from tetanus and lack of hemoglobin in their bodies, poor sanitary and health care conditions at birth, poor care during deliveries, etc.

The infant mortality in the state in 2004 was estimated at 79 (84 for rural areas and 56 for urban areas) as against national IMR of 58, the highest among all states in the country. Between 2000 and 2004, while the national IMR reduced from 68 to 58, the IMR of Madhya Pradesh dropped from 87 to just 79.

As far as maternal mortality rate is concerned, though the state had witnessed a significant reduction in MMR at 498/1000 (as per the National Family Health Survey - II) to 379/1000 as per the MMR data released in 2003, it was still far higher than the national MMR of 301/1000.

The public health infrastructure in the state is also far from satisfactory. As per the Human Development Report 2007, the state had a shortage of 26% in primary health centers, the very basis of primary health. The poor deliveries of primary health services in the state has primarily been attributed to doctors' unwillingness to serve in rural areas. Though the state has adopted an innovative approach of mobile health dispensaries through public private partnership and other health schemes, its impact on primary health is yet to be evaluated.

As per 2001 census, 22 per cent of the state population were directly at risk of water borne diseases as they did not have access to safe drinking water. As far as condition of sanitation is concerned, the state ranks far below than the national average. As per the survey carried out by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, only 9.7% of rural households in Madhya Pradesh had a toilet in 2005, which is abysmally low even compared to the national average of 23.7%.

Krishna K Jha

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