What is Karnataka’s Health Adalats All About?

On 2nd September 2014, Indian State, Karnataka for the first time in the country came up with a new concept of launching “Health Adalat” in all the districts of the state. The basic idea behind the launch is to address the many health-related problems and issues that the people of the State is facing and how these problems can be solved at the grass-roots level.

Health and Family Welfare Minister UT Khader stated that he has been hearing a lot of people complaining about the lack of facilities in the government hospitals, how difficult it is for them to avail medical facilities, to avail the various benefits that are being announced from time to time in Govt health programmes and many more such health related issues.

Some health programmes in Karnataka
Since the last so many years, many health programmes have been announced by the Government in the State. The Department of Health and Family Welfare Services is implementing several State health programmes to provide comprehensive health services to the people of Karnataka such as:

  • Task Force on Health and Family Welfare
  • Management of Primary Health Centres by NGOS and Medical Colleges
  • Telemedicine scheme for cardiac emergencies
  • Smart Card Initiative for sex workers
  • Community Health Insurance Programme
  • Village Health Committees
  • Vajpayee Arogyashree programme
  • Scheme for Assistance to Families in Exigency (SAFE)
  • Setting up a Vigilance Cell for the health sector
  • School Health Programme, and many more

Problems faced by the people

However, it is very sad to state not all these programmes have been properly implemented and people of the State face a lot of difficulties in getting access to these benefits and facilities of healthcare services. Many programmes are still not known to the public. Even today, the school health programme under which doctors should assess the health status of all schoolchildren by regularly visiting the schools is not given any publicity. There is shortage of doctors and lack of treatment facilities in hospitals and health centres. There are also other major concerns like increasing infant deaths, maternal mortality, communicable diseases and so on.

First health adalat at Gulbarga Zilla

The first-ever Health Adalat in the State took place in Gulbarga district. At Gulbarga Zilla, it was launched in the presence of the Health and Family Welfare Minister, elected representatives from the Gulbarga Zilla Panchayat, leader of Opposition, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Health Commissioner, Health Director and senior officers of the health department.

Some hard-hitting facts that came to light in this adalat were as follows:

  • A large number of infant deaths in Gulbarga and other parts of North Karnataka
  • Government hospitals in Gulbarga sell medicines for treating snake bites at expensive rates to medical stores. In such a case, people are more willing to die rather than pay a higher price for these drugs.
  • Lack of doctors. Low salaries paid to the doctors.
  • Lack of infrastructural facilities which make the doctors difficult to stay or come to the district on a regular basis.
  • There was a shortage of nurses in certain public healthcare centres.
  • People have to walk long distances to get medical help.
  • Some doctors give prescriptions without examining the patients and recommend them to buy medicines from outside and not from the Govt hospitals where they are available free or at a low price.

Steps to be taken

After the first adalat at Gulbarga district and hearing the public’s complaints and pleas, Khader had ensured the following:

  • The Government would definitely take stern measures to prevent malpractices in the hospitals in the coming days.
  • Two lakhs will be given to each PHC so that it could provide better treatment facilities to patients.
  • The State Government has also decided to take private gynaecologists and pediatricians’ services in the high risk districts, at least once a week in the community health centres and district hospitals.
  • The State Government is willing to pay more salaries to doctors if they are willing to serve in rural areas.

Idea behind the launch of the health adalat

The idea is to reduce the gap between the Health Department and the elected representatives whose role is to act as intermediaries between the government and the public. By organising health adalats in various towns and districts of Karnataka on a regular basis, it will provide a chance to the health officials to study, analyse and introspect on the health situation as well as on the successful running of the Government health programmes. U T Khader, the health minister of the State, also announced that the State Government will not launch any new health programmes for next three years but will focus on effective implementation of the Government schemes and programmes already announced. The major concerns were lack of implementation and reach to the beneficiaries. He directed all representatives to provide details to the public on the various programmes announced so far and how they can avail themselves of the benefits.

Well, no doubt this is indeed a very good initiative on the part of the Karanataka State Government and this should be followed by other States as well. But mere launching of a programme is not enough. All measures should be taken so that such health adalats can improve the health scenario of our country.

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