State

James stresses need for strengthening public healthcare

Minister rues low percentage of students opting for science in high school

Shillong, Oct 4: Health Minister James K. Sangma on Monday stressed the need for strengthening public health initiatives in Meghalaya.

Speaking at a programme organised by Indian Institute of Public Health- Shillong (IIPH-S) to highlight public health concerns in the state, Sangma emphasised the importance of directing health expenditure towards not only strengthening the tertiary but the primary aspects of healthcare.

Last month, Meghalaya was declared as one of the Top 3 states among Small State category with highest hospitalisation rate, indicating effective implementation of the health insurance programme.

The minister also rued the low rate of students in the state opting for science subjects in high school. Only 12% students choose science stream in higher secondary and 7% go for commerce, an assessment of MBoSE 10+2 results 2020 reveals.

“Science and Mathematics are subjects which will be key drivers of growth and development of human civilisation. They will aid in providing effective and concrete solutions to complex problems associated with not only health but also other complex problems like climate change and environmental concerns,” Sangma said.

IIPH-Shillong is launching a Bachelors in Public Health programme from this year, with an intention to create opportunities for science students while also addressing the shortage of public health experts.

Therefore, in order to encourage more students, especially from marginalised communities in rural areas, to pursue career avenues in science stream, Sangma, while appreciating IIPH’s initiative, assured that he would also start talks with the chief minister on possibilities of providing scholarships to them.

The Principal Health Secretary, Sampath Kumar, said Meghalaya is in the 4th position among all states in terms of government budget spending on healthcare and the focus now should be on the fact as to how we can improve our health indicators with increased spending.

“Collaboration between various stakeholders as well as between Government line departments is the key to improve health indicators in the State. There should be a motivation and an intrinsic desire among functionaries to improve health indicators,” he added.

The first batch of students of Masters in Public Health presented analyses of the public health issues, like birth preparedness and complication readiness among women and assessment of Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram scheme.

Sangma appreciated the analyses saying these gave “valuable insights” into the need to address demand-side health issues and strengthen communities for overall well-being of the state.

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