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Karnataka to establish state health registry: Sudhakar

'We need to have some kind of ethics training for staff. We want to implement complete surveillance systems in government facilities'
Last Updated 07 December 2022, 07:31 IST

Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar talked about ramping up public healthcare, improving the condition of government hospitals, the soon-to-be-launched Namma Clinics and weeding out corruption in this interview with Navya PK of DH. Edited excerpts:

Now that the Health Dept is widely issuing ABHA (Ayushman Bharat Health Account) ID cards, will these become mandatory for hospital admissions, like Aadhaar? In Tumakuru, a pregnant woman recently died after being turned away due to a lack of Aadhaar. Also, will personal health records (PHRs) be created for all those with ABHA IDs?

We have issued a strict circular that in emergency cases, healthcare staff should not ask for ID cards. Only once the patient is admitted and stabilised can they ask for information but this shouldn’t be a prerequisite for treatment. ABHA is not mandatory. But once we have [PHR] data, we can use algorithms to identify health issues in the population, across different geographical locations, etc, and design programmes accordingly.

The government of India has ambitious plans for this. We want to establish a state health registry that will have all the information on people's health. But there are legal shortcomings — certain personal conditions need not be shared with the government or other agencies.

A recent video showed PHC doctors demanding bribes. What will you do to tackle this systemic problem?

We need to have some kind of ethics training for staff. We want to implement complete surveillance systems in government facilities. We are also considering establishing a task force that will have the power to go to hospitals and interact with patients and rectify these practices. We also observe every Wednesday as inspection day — from minister to PHC doctors, everyone will inspect facilities tagged to their areas.

What are your goals for Namma Clinics?

We have screened over 60 per cent of the state's population for NCDs (non-communicable diseases) so far with the help of over 8,300 Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres in rural areas. But in urban areas, there's not even one PHC for 5 lakh people, whereas the WHO norm is one per 50,000. So Namma Clinics will be just like PHCs in urban areas — there will be a clinic for 30,000-35,000 people, and it will offer 12 services including lab tests.

On December 14, 100 Namma Clinics will be launched in rural areas. And in the first week of January, another 100 will be opened in Bengaluru. By the end of January, all 438 clinics in the state will start functioning. By February end, we plan to complete NCD screening for the state's entire population by involving Namma Clinics. The clinics will screen for diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Even though they will not have cancer screening equipment, they will collect patient information and refer cases.

The BBMP is facing difficulty hiring doctors for these clinics due to low salaries.

The salary offered in Namma Clinics is way lower than that paid to doctors in other Health Department programmes. So we are planning to increase the pay. Where no doctors are available, the BBMP has requested us to provide doctors who have to do compulsory rural service.

A lot of government funds go to private hospitals under the public health insurance (AB-ArK) scheme. Can't these procedures be done in government hospitals?

The government health sector has to be ramped up as per Niti Aayog guidelines — 7-8 per cent of GDP should be spent on public healthcare. We have a long way to go on this. Once our health system is robust, we won't depend on private hospitals. When we see states like Kerala, their secondary health infrastructure is quite robust. That's why we are planning to upgrade our PHCs, Community Health Centres and taluk hospitals, and are trying to improve quality through NQAAS and NABH certifications.

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(Published 06 December 2022, 16:28 IST)

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