Better Community Healthcare System – A Must for Our Country

Sunday, March 19, 2023


Although the traumatic phase of Covid-19 pandemic is almost over, yet it is disturbing to find that a large population of the country is suffering either from one or more communicable or non-communicable diseases. Data, in fact, suggest that non-communicable diseases are fast taking a greater number of people into its grip. The ever growing number of patients of Cancer, CVD, Diabetes, Liver and Kidney ailment vindicates this point.
We all know that the cost involved in disease prevention is far less than that of curative treatment. Putting more emphasis on prevention also suits our country in the light of a huge population, scarcity of funds and existing poor medical facilities in most of the state-run hospitals besides huge shortage of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff.  The cost of modern medical treatment is also unreasonably high and so quite unaffordable for many, notwithstanding Central Government’s initiative under Aayushman Bharat Yojana for disadvantaged sections of society. As such, the only way to protect the common people from falling sick frequently and to keep them healthy is to strengthen, improve and speed-up community healthcare initiatives.

In today’s world of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization Community Healthcare is of great significance, particularly for our country, as it is focused on health promotion and disease prevention of the community. It is also a major field of study within the medical and clinical sciences which focuses on the maintenance, protection and improvement of the health status of community members and different population groups in the society.
Simply speaking, community healthcare refers to meeting the needs of a defined group of people or a community by identifying their health related problems and managing the well-being of community members. Those individuals, who make up a community, live in a somewhat localized area. To say, keeping in view the health status of the people living in a particular village or town and initiating suitable actions to protect and improve their health is normally termed as community healthcare.
The success of community healthcare programmes relies upon the transfer of information from health professionals to common masses using one-to-one or one to many communication. Undoubtedly, the role of ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) and ANM (Auxiliary Nursing Midwife) who function as community health workers is extremely vital in this regard. Making Primary Health Centres (PHCs) now renamed as Wellness Centres fully functional 24x7 with all necessary infrastructures is equally important. 
It is all knowing that drinking water and sanitation are two very critical determinants of health, which can ensure reduction of more than 60% cases of communicable diseases in particular. As such, making available the facility of water supply and sanitation in both rural and urban areas alike is a prerequisite for successful implementation of community healthcare schemes. Undeniably, some headway on these fronts are visible on the ground, but the collective efforts of both central as well as state governments must be speeded up in this direction for ensuring far better results in coming months.

To put it very precisely, it is the bounden duty and responsibility of policy makers and community leaders to plan health strategies that enhance the health at different geographical areas having equal opportunities of healthcare facilities and matching services to all members. As health is a state subject, the ministry of health and family welfare needs to form stronger partnerships with other stakeholders involved in this task and impress upon them to work in a concerted manner within a time frame for better and sustainable results at the ground level. It is noteworthy that few states including Kerala have been performing well in this area by adopting a holistic and consistent approach. 
As rightly said, ‘Awareness is half the solution’ and ‘Prevention is better than cure’, it is very important to focus significantly on aspects of Health Awareness and Motivation through all routes including schools, colleges, community centres etc. for speedier and more cost-effective outcomes. Needless to emphasise that proactive measures by all community healthcare personnel would definitely go a long way in keeping the common people, more particularly children, ladies and old persons disease free to a great extent.

As always, I'm keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post comments to share your views and experiences.


# Published in "Morning India" daily.

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