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CSR Can Help Boost Rural Medical Infrastructure

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The Gorakhpur BRD Medical College calamity has brought to attention the poor condition of medical infrastructure in our country. The divide between rural and urban India has decreased greatly, in terms of road connectivity, network coverage, and development projects. Medical intervention has been limited to what the government has laid out for the rural areas. Although the structure of government hospital bodies have been laid out, its maintenance is a different debate. The condition of hospitals, buildings, equipment, and the staff is not up to the mark. This ignorance in the rural areas for primary health care has led to the loss of many lives over the past decade, even after the advancement in medical technology. Making it available has been a challenge for the government.
Just in time, the Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan flagged off 11 Mobile Medical Units (MMUs), which will travel to villages in the state providing free primary health care services. Six of these MMUs, specially equipped Tempo Traveler vehicles by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd., four by GAIL (India) Limited and one by Oil and Natural Gas Ltd. (ONGC) have been given under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Each MMU will have a qualified Doctor (minimum MBBS), nurse (ANM), laboratory technician, pharmacist, essential medicines, diagnostic kit and awareness material on health and hygiene.
According to the Rural Health Statistics report by the government, as of 31st March 2016, there are 1,55,069 sub centres, 25,354 primary health centres and 5,510 community health centres in the country. Sub centres are assigned tasks to provide services in relation to maternal and child health, family welfare, nutrition, immunisation, diarrhoea control and control of communicable diseases programmes. The PHCs are established and maintained by State governments with an emphasis on preventive and promotive aspects of health care.  A CHC is required to be manned by four medical specialists i.e. surgeon, physician, gynecologist and pediatrician supported by 21 paramedical and other staff.
Only 1,273 mobile medical units and 773 district hospitals by the government are functional. 39,528 sub-centres are yet to be constructed, as of March 31st, 2016. The PHCs and CHCs are still better in terms of numbers, but the first help to rural areas are the sub-centres, and they are poorly equipped. With regard to the current health position of the country, it is important for public and private entities to work together on such projects to make rural India healthier.