Panel Discussion on Health Inequality and Inequality in Odisha

Bhubaneswar : Health is universally declared as one of the fundamental human rights, encompasses every human being irrespective of race, caste, age, gender, socio-economic and ethnic background. In order to share the findings of the working paper and understand the diversities of health inequalities particularly between the age groups, gender, region, social groups etc, CYSD, on the occasion of its 37th Foundation Day organized a panel discussion “Health Inequality & Inequity in Contemporary Odisha”.

Eminent persons including Chief Guest Mr. Amitav Behar, CEO Oxfam,India, Mr. Jagadananda, Mentor and Co-founder, CYSD, Dr. Lalit Mohan Rath, Directorate of State Institute of Health & Family Welfair, GoO, Dr. Bhuputra Panda, Public Health Specialist & Adjunct Additional Professor, IIPHB and Dr. Shridhar Kadam, Additional Professor, PHFI participated in the panel. The programme was moderate by, Mr. Akshay Kumar Biswal, Regional Manager.Speaking on the health inequality, Mr. Amitav Behar, CEO Oxfam, India said, “Inequalities differ from country to country, state to state and in Odisha it differs from district to district. Again if we are looking for inequalities among the communities then again adivasis and weaker sections are comparatively more vulnerable than upper caste and other caste people.

This shows the level of inequalities among the communities. So the civil society organization movement is not talking about economic equality among the communities. We are talking of equality at all level like social sectors, economic development and other facilities etc”. Dr. Bhuputra Panda, Public Health Specialist & Adjunct Additional Professor, IIPH said, “Equality in health refers to the distribution of resources for the vulnerable segments of the society and therefore has essentially moral judgements tagged to it. We need to plan and implement policies keeping in mind those who need the services the most. We also need to monitor programmes closely, and critique policies using objectively verifiable indicators. Encouraging decentralized shared governance, better intersectoral coordination and strengthening health systems building blocks would improve equity in health and the factors contributing to it.” he added”  Jagadananda, Mentor and Co-founder, CYSD said,“Health inequality in the state persisted since last long.

Though our state achieved good health indexes in past days but if we compare the inter districts then it gives a very bad picture of un health indicators. So to address the health inequality in the state the govt should focus on proper implementation of govt schemes programmes and which may eradicate the inequality level from the backward communities”.

In the context of Odisha, varied plans, policies and programmes have been designed to spread out proper health care services in a socially equitable, accessible and affordable manner within a prescribed time frame throughout the state. Despite this attribute, differences exist between age groups, gender, region, social groups etc.
Odisha Budget and Accountability Centre (OBAC, working on budget research, budget literacy and its process, evidence based advocacy for pro-poor budgeting and policy practices, has been operating in the state since 2003 as a constituent unit of CYSD. In order to understand the diversities in health inequalities particularly in accessing the health care facility and services  in Odisha, the centre has worked out a working paper “Health Inequality & Inequity in Contemporary Odisha: a bird’s-eye view”.

Findings of Health inequality and inequality in Odisha:

• The total no of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in the state is 1305 and the total bed strength in the PHCs is 1026. But as per the present data 13.36 % PHCs are having indore beds. Being the major cornerstone of rural health services most of the PHCs don’t have adequate facilities. As per IPHS guidelines every PHCs should have at least 4-6 beds. As per the data of Directorate of Health Services, 2018 13 districts didn’t have a single bed in their respective PHC New.
• It is observed that anaemia is more prominent in Women and children than male. Out of 30 district women and children are anaemic in 11 district of the state. Ot of this 11 district more than 70% women are anaemic in these 4 districts-Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Malkangiri and Nabarangapur. At the same time more than 70% children of Sundargarh, Sonpur, Malkangiri, Nabrangpur, Sambalpur and Koraput districts are anaemic.
• As per the sample registration system SRS, 2016 the death rate in Odisha is heights in the country which stands at (Male:8.5, Female:7.1)as against 6.4 (Male: 6.8, Female: 5.9) of the country as a whole, a sharp 1.4 points below the national death rate.
• It is observed that, malnourishment is very prominent in most of the tribal dominated districts of Odisha such as Kendujhar, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Sonepur,  Sundargarh, Kandhamal, Bargarh, Balangir and Boudh. In the context of stunted, in Odisha 34.1% children are stunted followed by 20.4% wasted and 35.1% children underweight.