The government has initiated measures to strengthen the clinical dimension aspect, the failings of which contributed to high levels of maternal and infant mortality in Meghalaya.
To this end, the state government has approved a policy to address the shortage of medical specialists in Meghalaya, which will be implemented through the Adoption of Alternate models for Responding to Shortage of medical specialists (ADARSH) project.
This project is an attempt to scale up alternate models for responding to the critical shortage of medical specialists in the state by training doctors in the public sector.
To further this, the government has also partnered with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) – Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH).
Under this initiative, the district hospitals will witness a strengthening of their capital infrastructure as well as the staffing of specialists.
It is anticipated that the presence of postgraduate trainees in the hospital around the year will lead to better services and higher utilisation.
The state has also adopted a College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPS) model, which allows the state government to reserve all seats for candidates who are domiciles of Meghalaya with preference given to in-service doctors.
Medical specialists are scarce in Meghalaya and the availability gynaecologists, paediatricians, anaesthesiologists and radiologists is crucial to providing care to high-risk pregnant mothers and low-birth weight children as well as to conduct caesarean operations.
Speaking on this policy, Commissioner and Secretary Sampath Kumar said, “Around 7,000 villages are remotely located and therefore, there are glaring geographical challenges in reaching out to people in far flung areas. It becomes even more challenging for the pregnant mothers to reach the nearest PHCs/CHCs (public and community health centres).”
Kumar said that whenever a woman whose pregnancy has been identified as a high risk and a complicated one approaches the nearest health centre, the presence of specialists is fundamental to saving mothers and children in the state.
Throwing more light on the policy, he added, “This policy is aimed at addressing this gap and building the health system in the long run. Currently, there are 141 vacancies in the State but there are no medical specialists to fill up the posts,” he added.
He said that it will be extremely difficult to reduce the State’s MMR and IMR in the absence of specialists.
“The vision is that in the next 5-10 years, we should be able to train our own in-service doctors who can be positioned even at the remote CHC level,” Kumar added.