TN minister seeks clarification on NITI Aayog’s health index ranklist

Chennai: Tamilnadu slipping down to ninth rank from third in the NITI Aayog’s Health Index has raised serious concern and experts opine that the State should take it as a ‘wake up call’ and improve the services offered.

Meanwhile, the officials from State Health Department point out the that denominators and data are wrong.

As per the report, the performance of the State has come down in full immunisation coverage, tuberculosis notification and vacancies of doctors in primary health centres. The study further lists the most deteriorated indicators and they are low birth weight newborns, integrated disease surveillance programme reporting, proportion of community health centres and PHCs with quality accreditation services.

Transplant Authority of Tamilnadu (Transtan) former member secretary, Dr Amalorpavanathan J said, “Slipping into ninth position is somewhat a serious issue, considering the data of under-weight children. With respect to primary health care centres, the round-the-clock service was proposed only for institutional deliveries. Later, the government revised the policy and made it a mandate that the deliveries would take place in hospitals. However, I do not think the rate of deliveries taking place in tertiary care centres have gone down. The State is doing reasonably well, but this is a wake up call.”

Doctor’s Association for Social Equality secretary, Dr Shanthi, stated that Tamilnadu would always rank first with respect to vaccination drives.

“However, owing to the propaganda of unscientific methods of treatment, the immunisation coverage has come down in the recent past. It is the same case with the drop in institutional deliveries. The other factors are basic infrastructure in community health centre, low birth weight babies and others which indicate that the health spend has to be increased.”

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a simulation lab at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Tamilnadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar claimed that the data is incorrect. “Annually, around 9.5 lakh deliveries take place in Tamilnadu and in 99.9 per cent cases we have been maintaining institutional deliveries whereas NITI Aayog report states 11 lakh deliveries in which 80 per cent takes place place in hospitals and 20 per cent at homes.”

He further stated that the State stands in the second place in bringing down the Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate.

On immunisation, the Minister said, “The immunisation programme covers more than 90 per cent of the population, however, in the report, the numbers state less than 90 per cent.”

According to the report, Tamilnadu has been declared polio-free since the past seven years, however, the Minister stated that the condition was eradicated 14 years ago and credits the immunisation programme.

The Minister has raised an objection in the Chief Secretary level and said that the Health Secretary has written a letter seeking clarification.

He further noted that the deaths occurring due to accidents has come down from 8.3 per cent to 2.7 per cent due to Tamilnadu Accident and Emergency Care Initiative (TAEI).

Bhavani Prabhakar