Impressed by Puducherry’s initiatives in the health sector, Myanmar has decided to take a leaf out of the UT’s book and replicate the successful model in its country.
Recently, a delegation from Myanmar’s Health Ministry (including senior officials and doctors) visited Puducherry’s Frontier Lifeline Hospital, the Mediville Basic Medical Science Park and Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital to study how the model works.
Says Prof. Khin Maung Aye, Head of Department of Cardiac Surgery, Yangon General Hospital,
“Our visit to Frontier Lifeline Hospital and Basic Medical Science Park was very informative as we witnessed heart transplantation for three patients, a re-transplant in another patient and another with lung transplant. The transplant technology is very advanced with excellent results. The Mediville Basic Medical Science Park and its pathology museum is very innovative, very impressive and is probably the best in Asia.”
The delegation held a detailed discussion with Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, Chief Secretary Manoj Parida, and Frontier Lifeline Hospital chairman and chief executive officer Dr K M Cherian.
The visitors also spent time understanding the factors behind the efficient functioning of the public-private partnership (PPP) between the state-run Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital (IGGGH), the Frontier Lifeline Hospital and the K.M. Cherian Heart Foundation.
As per the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between them, a team of doctors from the Frontier Lifeline Hospital perform up to five cardiac surgeries a week and provide post-operative care until the patient is discharged.
This is one among the many reasons that make Puducherry’s healthcare system among the best in the country and why Myanmar is so keen to emulate the same model in its country.
Here is a brief analysis of the factors that makes this tiny union territory a popular medical hub for patients across south India.
Regarding health indicators, Puducherry has far better figures than the national average. Let’s take a look at the reasons behind these impressive statistics.
- The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is 22, as opposed to the national goal of 30.
Reason: Thanks to high levels of literacy (76%, higher than the national average of 59.5%) and awareness, Puducherry’s total fertility rate is 1.7 — the lowest in India — against the national goal of 2.3. Also, the UT boasts of 98% institutional deliveries as a result of which the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is 36 per one lakh births, far better than the national goal of 200 per one lakh.
- The sex ratio of 967, that is, 967 female children for every 1000 children.
Reason: Effective implementation and close monitoring of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (that makes pre-natal gender screening or testing illegal in India).
- Regarding healthcare delivery, Puducherry has been adjudged the best in India with all its residents having access to medical care within an average distance of less than 1.2 km.
Annually, over 57 lakh outpatients and 1.4 lakh in-patients are treated in the UT’s 159 medical centres that includes 8 major hospitals, 39 Primary Health Centres (PHC), 4 Community Health Centres (CHC), 77 sub-centres, 14 Employee State Insurance dispensaries and 17 disease-specific clinics (for diabetes, hypertension etc).
The PHCs, CHCs and the sub-centres all have internet connectivity and provide basic medical (and nursing) services such as regular insulin injections for diabetic patients, mid-wife services, anti-rabies vaccines for dog bites and anti-venom medication.
The general hospitals provide speciality and super-speciality services to both inpatients and outpatients — more than 5000 patients are treated every day. The hospitals also act as the main referral institution for primary and secondary healthcare facilities in the UT as well as in neighbouring districts of Tamil Nadu.
- All the General Hospitals in Puducherry are equipped with full-fledged operation theatres, licensed blood banks, ambulance services and telemedicine facility.
Also, the Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital and Postgraduate Institute also have a state-of-the-art Cardiac Cath Lab (used to perform catheterization, angioplasty and pacemaker implantations in case of complex coronary diseases) that has been installed at the cost of ₹ 4.52 crore.
Other than enhanced care for expecting mothers, Puducherry’s Rajiv Gandhi Women and Child Hospital are also equipped with an exclusive Infertility Clinic, Genetic Clinic and Counselling Clinic. Programmes that work for the prevention of parent-to-child transmission of HIV infection are also operational at the hospital.
- In general hospitals, all drugs for outpatients are distributed free of cost. Kidney transplantation is also done free of cost for BPL families.
The Pondicherry Medical Relief Society for The Poor provides financial assistance (up to ₹ 1,50,000) for treatment of life-threatening diseases for BPL residents who have been living in the UT for more than five years.
In 2010, The UT government also signed a MoU with the New India Assurance Company to bring the 29000 BPL families in Karaikal (a district of Puducherry) under health insurance cover. A Nutritional Supplement Scheme for children (in the age group of 1 – 3) also covers more than 40,000 beneficiaries across the UT.
- Puducherry’s health department conducts regular preventive, control and care campaigns for tuberculosis, vector-borne disease, leprosy, eye health and dental health.
These mobile boot-camps move from locality to locality to spread awareness about the aforementioned disease. Malaria control and care, especially, have been enhanced through modern tools like Insecticidal Long Lasting Nets, Rapid Diagnostic Kits and Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT).
The health department is also working towards setting up special OPDs for diabetes, hypertension and neonatal care (Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care Centres) in rural areas.
- Puducherry is home to one of India’s oldest and most prestigious healthcare institutions.
A premier medical centre with a distinctive pro-poor focus, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) is internationally considered a medical research leader besides healthcare and medical education. It has frequently collaborated with Harvard School of Public Health on its multi-sectoral research activities
Recently, JIPMER inaugurated a one-of-its-kind robotic surgical simulation surgery programme, which involves performing robotic procedures on patients.
Furthermore, in 2017, the hospital performed its first transplant of both the forearms and hands of a 50-year-old brain-dead donor to a 16-year-old bilateral below-elbow amputee. It will also be soon setting up an Institute of Microbial Sciences and an Institute of Trauma Care (equipped with an air ambulance facility), each having a budget of ₹ 500 crores.
A Research Resource Centre —with divisions like Clinical Research, Molecular Biology, Clinical Epidemiology, and Biostatistics — is also being built to develop independent and collaborative studies under Government of India’s VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) and GIAN (Global Initiative for Academic Network) schemes.
In addition to this, JIPMER will commission an exclusive screening OPD (that will determine which patients require referral to a specialist department) to streamline the treatment of its rapidly rising number of patients. Patient registration, patient tracking, OPD Services, IPD Services, investigations, admissions and return of lab reports are also being completely computerized. An online grievance redressal centre is also on the cards
JIPMER’s Department of Medical Oncology, along with NGO JAL has also opened SHINE, a home for cancer-affected children that offers comprehensive care including food, livelihood needs and support for psycho-social development during the treatment. The hospital also provides telemedicine-based patient care services and shares medical knowledge among the BIMSTEC countries — India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand.