The healthcare infrastructure of Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur District is gradually coming back on track thanks to the small but effective steps taken by the District Administration to ensure that nobody is deprived of healthcare services, irrespective of their economic condition.
A decade after the formation of the district, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in August 2022 inaugurated the district hospital, offering state-of-art treatment services at nominal rates, thereby stemming the tide of patients who needed to travel outside the state for getting medical care.
Drug Today Medical Times Correspondent Rohit Shishodia spoke to erstwhile Hapur District Magistrate Ms Medha Roopam, a UP cadre IAS officer of the 2014 Batch, about various steps being taken to boost healthcare services, implementation of routine immunisation, extending Ayushman Card facilities and prevalence of gender bias in the society among others.
Well known for her proactive and people-friendly approach, Ms Roopam has served in multiple administrative positions across the state before taking over as District Magistrate of Hapur in April 2022.
Ms Roopam is also an accomplished sportsperson and represented Kerala, where she grew up, in 10-meter air rifle shooting.
Here are excerpts…………
DTMT: How are public healthcare services improving in the district?
Ms Medha Roopam: Our district witnesses a substantial footfall of patients because it comes under the Meerut division of Western Uttar Pradesh. We also receive complex cases.
Currently, there are 24 Primary Health Centres, six Community Health Centres and 103 Health and Wellness Centres running in the district.
If you look at the numbers, there are a very large number of patients coming to OPDs of CHC Hapur and the number of patients visiting the district hospital is also increasing exponentially.
We are making an all-out effort to provide healthcare facilities, which should be available to all who come there to get treatment.
Yes, the district lacked a hospital since its formation, but in August 2022 Honourable Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath Ji inaugurated a state-of-the-art district hospital, which has a major focus on mother and child care.
DTMT: Can you please tell our readers about it in a little more detail?
Ms Roopam: The hospital is well-equipped with all major departments, including psychiatry, dermatology, medicine, surgery, ENT, dental, ophthalmology, pathology, orthopaedic and gynaecology.
The main feature of this hospital is the Mother Neonatal Care Unit (MNCU) also known as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), a technique where babies are kept chest-to-chest and skin-to-skin with a parent, typically their mother.
It has been found in research that preterm infants who are kept in skin-to-skin contact with their mother stand a better chance of survival compared to those kept in incubators only.
We have set up air-conditioned MNCUs wards in both the District Hospital and CHCs and equipped them with cribs and special chairs for breastfeeding.
Providing a wholesome diet has also been the major focus of the unit, and nutritional and lactation experts constantly provide counselling there. They also counsel pregnant women so that the mother-to-be takes care of herself and the growing foetus during the entire duration of pregnancy.
Another initiative that we are currently concentrating on is ‘Garbh Sanskar’, an Ayurvedic therapy, where pregnant women are given holistic therapy based on spiritual music, Veda, meditation, and worship so that the baby can be nurtured in the womb.
If you look at our culture, we find that a child learns a lot while in the womb and this has also been said in ancient India, today even modern science has also validated it.
DTMT: Can you please tell our readers how this therapy is helpful?
Ms Roopam: If a child listens to music, it improves their IQ, and if they are provided with a happy and healthy atmosphere, the chances of their development get better.
Garbh Sanskar focuses on knowledge (reading of spiritual and good books, emphasising healthy behaviour and habits), good nutrition, Yoga, meditation and music.
65 pregnant women have been counselled under the initiative in the past 45 days.
DTMT: During my visit to the District Hospital, I was pleasantly surprised to find a functional physiotherapy unit. Can you please tell us about it in a little detail?
Ms Roopam: We have focused on physiotherapy because lately changing lifestyles and work conditions are resulting in increased desk work, leading to more people reporting muscle and bone-related problems.
Physiotherapy has been found effective in managing many painful conditions, including knee pain and spondylitis. The unit is also equipped with a treadmill to facilitate whole-body check-up tests.
Additionally, we are also providing multiple diagnostic tests, including a lipid profile, CBC, KFT, LFT, ECG and TMT at nominal rates.
DTMT: Available data suggest that the COVID pandemic has disrupted the routine immunisation programme across the globe. How has the district administration responded to this challenge?
Ms Roopam: We have taken care of routine immunisation, and in the last year, we are close to reaching the best in the state.
As you will observe from the records, the district achieved nearly complete coverage of 98%immunisation against hepatitis.
Similarly, we have been able to achieve 62% complete immunisation in the 0-1 year age group.
To achieve this, we have involved various institutions, including schools, communities and ANMs.
Moreover, we are taking adequate steps to ensure that there is no shortage in the blood banks for which we conduct regular blood donation camps and motivate people, associations and officials to donate blood.
We have also tried to tackle the situation of malnourishment by taking care of Severely Acute Malnourished children to provide nutritional food after consulting a team of experts.
DTMT: How many Ayushman Cards have been issued in the Hapur district?
Ms Roopam: We have a target of providing 2,58,424 Ayshman cards. So far we have provided 1,36,240 golden cards, which enable poor people to get free treatment in government and private hospitals for up to rupees five lakhs in a year.
Though we are making efforts to raise awareness about welfare schemes, which the government has taken, residents of Hapur need to be more active and aware to avail benefits of schemes, so that they get empowered.
In case they come across any hurdles or problems, my office doors are always open for them. Everyone is most welcome. They can approach my office with any complaint. We are here to serve people.
DTMT: There is a general perception among people that only private hospitals can provide quality services but financial constraints prevent them from getting treated there. They do not want to go to government facilities assuming that they wouldn’t get quality treatment. What would be your message to such people?
Ms Roopam: I would request people to come out of this perception that only private hospitals can provide better services.
For example, we have gynaecologists in the district hospital who carry out caesarean section deliveries at very nominal costs. The government healthcare facilities in the district conduct many diagnostic tests free of cost.
The health infrastructure in the public sector in the district is as good as, if not superior to private hospitals, manned by well-trained staff.
We are also carrying out dialysis at the hospital. The load of patients seeking dialysis is very high, but we are doing it successfully at nominal government rates.
In terms of providing quality healthcare to the elderly population in the district, the administration is proactively working in old-age homes too where we conduct regular medical camps.
Today patients want quality healthcare. I think we are working in this direction.
DTMT: What are you doing to put a leash on quacks and unethical medical practices?
Ms Roopam: I would like to tell you about a recent incident when a doctor at CHC Hapur was found soliciting a patient to go to a private doctor.
We took stringent steps as soon as the matter came to notice. We suspended him and initiated a departmental enquiry on his conduct as we follow a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy in these matters.
Similarly, we carried out a joint action with a team from Haryana, in which we busted a racket carrying out prenatal sex determination tests in violation of the PC-PNDT Act, and we nabbed the perpetrators.
We are creating an atmosphere where doctors offer their services to patients free from unethical practices.
DTMT: It is good you are taking proactive measures to tackle this but what would you say about the prevailing gender bias in society?
Ms Roopam: The idea that only sons will keep their forefathers' names going is absolutely misplaced. This fundamental mindset (mool soch) prevents people from realising that they are doing something which are neither ethical nor legal.
I would like to tell such people that first, they are demeaning their daughters by giving a message that girls are inferior to boys.
Secondly, for their fanciful wishes, they force women to go through multiple pregnancies, and finally, sex-selective abortion is a crime.
The final crime is to go for a sex determination test, and many times women are forced to terminate their pregnancies and abort the female foetus.
I would like to tell such people that there is a necessity to change their mindset, and I do not think there is any field today where girls are underperforming. All that matters is what kind of atmosphere people are providing to their children.
I have noticed that a lot of change has taken place recently, and in many places, girls are doing very well. The moot issue here is that parents should be very cautious in raising their children, irrespective of gender, with sensitivity. Gender does not pull people back in any field.
However, I still feel that there is a need for more change in society and Hapur District Administration is working on a mission mode to raise awareness among the masses.