Anthropologist Joan Mencher, who has worked in Kerala and other parts of India for thirty years, sums up the situation as follows: “In the nearby Indian state of Tamil Nadu, more than half the times I visited a Primary Health Centre (PHC), one doctor was on leave, another was attending a conference, or one doctor had just been transferred and another was off on some training programme, or had gone to see his or her sick mother, etc. This was not the case in Kerala”.
Health care as a public demand
Right from the time of formation of the state, health care was one of the governments’ top priorities. It was developed in such a way that it incorporated both Western and traditional medicine and the three categories in view of its ownership: public, private and cooperative sector. Allopathic facilities of the public sector are systematically organized in rural areas, where 74% of the population resides. Each Community Health Centre serves roughly 230,000 people, and each PHC serves a population of approximately 26,000. In addition, there are 5,094 sub-centres of PHCs as grass-root institutions.
Public health programmes in Kerala
Kerala has made its own hallmarks through its accomplishments in both of these areas. At the same time, the point to note is that, the gains in health are not the product of health programmes alone, but due to the combined effects of the various reform programmes planned and executed by the state government. Kerala’s public health efforts are seen to be concentrating on four areas: housing, sanitation, safe water, and vaccination programs.
Housing and living standard
Poor housing can be a major source of disease. Dirty floors and palm roofs attract bacteria and mosquitoes. Overcrowding exacerbates the spread of infections and parasites. In order to provide quality housing options to the underprivileged sections of society, the Kerala government has unveiled a Livelihood Inclusion and Financial Empowerment (LIFE) programme. The LIFE Mission is a housing scheme, to provide shelter to landless and homeless people in Kerala. The target is to build 4.3 lakh homes in five years.
High sanitation standard
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