Health and Wellness

While India met some health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, its performance in many health indicators such as maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) was modest, with considerable inter-state variations in success rates to check these. Despite being among poorest states, Odisha considerably improved its MMR and IMR during MDG period, with its IMR now lower than national average. Yet, wide differences exist within Odisha, in IMR and MMR, depending on geography and demography, while the state’s mortality rate of children under 5 is still worrying. Also, frequent outbreaks of vector borne diseases like Malaria, Dengue, and Japanese Encephalitis continue, and as with IMR and MMR, disproportionately impact rural poor and tribals.

Sustainable Development Goal 3 prioritises ‘health for all’ and has created new opportunities to address gaps left from MDG ere. However, these can only be tapped with an enabling eco-system. At present, low spending by Government of Odisha has resulted in a weak public health infrastructure, which compels state’s citizens to mostly resort to Out-of-Pocket (OOP) expenditure. In fact, Odisha’s OOP rate is 76%, abnormally high for a poor state. The situation is complicated by huge shortages of health workers, especially specialists, in remote areas.

In order to rectify the untenable state of Odisha’s public health care system, there is a need to generate ideas and partnerships, by involving all relevant actors, including (but not limited to) the government. There is a need for attention to, in particular, issues relating to Primary Healthcare, Health Financing, and Healthcare Delivery in less accessible areas.

Discussion Points:

  • What are the reliable data required to monitor financial risk protection? Where and how can these be sourced or generated?
  • What are the major successes as well as challenges and weaknesses in primary health care service delivery in Odisha? How can these gaps be addressed and the public health system be adequately augmented and improved?
  • What models and best practices from other states can be of use for this?
  • How can health care, especially primary health care, in Odisha be made fairer to remove expenditure burden of the average citizen?
  • Which mechanisms are available to Odisha citizens for financial protection against catastrophic medical expenses caused by illness and injury?
  • What can be done to mainstream AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy)? Can that be a game changer?
  • How can traditional healers (not AYUSH) be effectively tapped, for accessing indigenous sources of knowledge and practice, while also adequately acknowledging their contribution as living repositories of these?
  • What can be done to make healthcare accessible to citizens living in remote areas of Odisha, especially those belonging to primitive tribes?
  • How prepared is Odisha to deal with threat of outbreak of new communicable and non-communicable diseases? What existing resources can be of use to address unexpected challenges? What more needs to be put in place?