31 January 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
Designed To Be Preventive, Curative and Rehabilitative It Will Be Rolled Out In 100 Dists Across 21 states
A ministry note, available with TOI, estimates that the elderly population will increase to 12% of the total population by 2025, 10% of which would be bedridden, requiring utmost care.
"That’s why, we have formulated NPHCE to address various health–related problems of elderly people. The programme has got final approval from the expenditure finance committee. The ministry has already finalised operational guidelines and sent it to states for implementation," joint secretary B K Prasad told TOI.
Prasad said the funds were already being released and by 2012, the programme, "designed to be preventive, curative and rehabilitative for the elderly," would be rolled out in 100 districts across 21 states. According to the note, India will soon become home to the second largest number of older people in the world.
"However, the challenges are unique with this population in India. A majority (80%) of them are in the rural areas thus making service delivery a challenge, feminisation of the elderly population (51% of the elderly population would be women by 2016), increase in the number of the older–old (persons above 80 years) and 30% of the elderly are below poverty line," the note said.
Under the programme, district hospitals are being aided to start a 10–bedded geriatric ward. Eight regional 30–bedded geriatric centres are being set up in places like AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh, Government Medical College in Jaipur and Madras Medical College.
In the sub–centres, male health workers will be trained to make domiciliary visits to the elderly in areas under their jurisdiction. They will give special attention to the elderly, who are bedridden, and provide training to the family for looking after the disabled. They will arrange suitable callipers and supportive devices and provide them to elderly disabled people to make them ambulatory.
At the PHC level, a weekly geriatric clinic will be arranged by a trained medical officer. They will conduct health assessment of the elderly on simple clinical examinations relating to vision, joints, hearing, chest, BP and simple investigations including blood sugar. In the PHC, items like a nebulizer, glucometer, shoulder wheel, walker, cervical and lumbar traction and gait training apparatus will be made available.
The district hospital will provide regular dedicated OPD services to the elderly besides setting up a 10–bed geriatric ward.
"With increasing life expectancy, demographic ageing is an emerging phenomenon which will hit India hard in the coming years. The number of persons above the age of 60 years has increased steadily from 2 crore in 1951 to over 7.6 crore in 2001. According to the National Sample Survey of 2004, 8% of older Indians are confined to their home or bed with the number increasing to 27% after the age of 80 years," an official said.