The public health situation in Assam is rather grim at the moment. There are reports of the government planning to open many more health centres in the State, but whether the plan is at all feasible with the human resources available with the government is very much in doubt. Somehow, there is a failure to appreciate the fact that mere buildings are not going to give the State anything that even remotely approximates efficient health centres. Nor is mere legislation relating to health matters likely to help in a State that has about the highest infant mortality and materl mortality rates in the country. Over the years, most officials in the State have got into the habit of regarding mere rituals as real development work. That this is very far from being the fact should be brought home by the very state of the people’s health—especially in the rural areas. The effects of malnutrition and improper child care are all too prominent. There are far too many instances of stunted growth and low body weight for anyone to pretend that all is well in our State. The role of preventive medicine has been very dismal in our State, whether one is talking of malaria, dengue or Japanese encephalitis. And things are unlikely to improve in a situation where there is one doctor to a population of 20,000 or so, and where it is often difficult to find even nurses for our health centres. Things are also unlikely to improve in a scerio where it is so difficult to make a doctor accept a posting in a rural health centre. Our planners and policy-makers should begin to appreciate that attitudes to rural postings are unlikely to change as long as villages continue to be deprived of the very basic amenities that are available in our towns—mainly relating to transport, communication and simple recreatiol facilities.
Public Health Concerns