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12 August 2008
New Delhi, India
By Prashant K Nanda

It is aimed at enhancing the capacity of the public health managerial workforce through specially designed courses
In an effort to boost the rural health delivery mechanism, the Government of India has selected four institutes that will train all district medical authorities in the country on hospital management.

“The Health Ministry has selected four institutes to train the district health authorities and doctors. It is aimed at enhancing the capacity of the public health managerial workforce through specially designed courses,” National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) Director Deoki Nandan said.

The four institutes include NIHFW, the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) of Maharashtra, the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (AIIHPH) of Kolkata and the Public Health Foundation of India, a public–private partnership institute with a presence across the country.

District health authorities and doctors will undergo a one–year programme at the institutes. Seven months will be for classroom training, two and a half months for fieldwork and the rest for dissertation and evaluation.

“There is a need to devise programmes which will impart the skills required to tackle existing and emerging public health challenges and enhance the public health managerial workforce,” Nandan said.

He said that all the institutes have been given the responsibility of certain states.

“NIHFW will train authorities from Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradseh, Uttarakhand and Delhi. We have already received 25 registrations from these states,” he added.

Three years ago, India started its flagship NRHM to boost healthcare in its villages. But Unicef had recently said that it is failing to deliver results.

The Health Ministry says that the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has been doing a good job, but there is a need to enhance the skill set of people at the district level.

Every year, 2.1 million children in India do not survive to celebrate their fifth birthday. At least 46 per cent of Indian children and over 50 per cent of women are malnourished.

In spite of tall claims by the government, tens of thousands of people suffer from malaria and around 2,000 people die of mosquito–related diseases. Similarly, thousands of people die of diarrhoea every year.

Nandan said public health challenges faced by the country call for developing capacity, especially in rural India, by positioning qualified professionals who can execute and monitor national health policies and supervise the public health workforce.

The course has innovative modules like NRHM, disease surveillance, public–private partnership (PPP), bio–statistics, epidemiology, operation research, occupational and environmental health, health promotion and management of district and state health system.

According to the Health Ministry, a major strength of the programme is in providing opportunity to apply learning directly within the community setting.

Nandan said since the country is huge, efforts must be made to connect with the people and solve the problems through community participation.

“I hope the initiative will help solve the problem at the grassroots.”

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