Thoothukudi District Health Assembly discusses health challenges

Stakeholders voice concerns over access to healthcare services

The first District Health Assembly of Thoothukudi district was held here on Thursday with Collector K. Senthil Raj chairing the meet, which was convened to identify the challenges in the health sector through comprehensive discussion with stakeholders.

“Public health sector service delivery will be effective only if the community actively participates in the whole process of planning and service delivery. In this regard, to increase citizen empowerment and social accountability of the health sector to its citizens, the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Reforms Programme [TNHSRP] has proposed to convene District and State Health Assemblies with the support of World Bank. The purpose of the DHA is to discuss health challenges and felt needs of the people and establish a dialogue between different stakeholders at the community level,” Dr. Senthil Raj, who is a physician, said while explaining the purpose of the meet.

In the current year of 2021-2022, the DHA would be conducted in 10 districts including Thoothukudi.

With due COVID-19 precautions, the meeting was held in hybrid model with the District Organising and Working Committees attending the meet at the Collectorate and block-level officials and representatives of the public participating virtually.

The district team comprised the Collector, Project Director of District Rural Development Agency, Deputy Director of Health Services, Joint Director of Health Services, Dean of Thoothukudi Medical College Hospital, Project Officer of Integrated Child Development Scheme, other health officials and representatives of non-governmental organisations.

Daman Ahuja, representative from the AdvisoryGroup on Community Action, New Delhi, and Mathusoothanan, Joint Director (Training), Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Chennai, participated in the meeting.

In the last week of December, village and block-level assemblies were conducted, where representatives of the public and members of self-help groups were given the opportunity to express their felt health needs, gaps in health care service delivery and other health-related issues such as water supply, sanitation, anganwadi services, school health, gender equity, etc.

After arriving at a consensus on possible solutions to identified health gaps, their proposals were compiled under the guidance of Block Medical Officers and Block Development Officers. The resolutions were prioritised and taken up for discussion at the District Health Assembly held on Thursday.

At the Assembly, people’s representatives, including panchayat presidents and the general public, participated and put forward their concerns over access to healthcare services, which were addressed by the Collector and other dignitaries.

“The resolutions finalised by the committee members were categorised into those that can be resolved at the district level, while infrastructure needs requiring the intervention of the State will be put forth during the State Health Assembly,” Dr.Senthil Raj said.

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