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Punjab Introduces E-Reforms in Health Sector

by Jawwad Rizvi

In order to improve the performance of its health sector, the Punjab government has started implementing electronic reforms in the system through the use of information technology.

The government has hired Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants (MEAs) for this purpose who visit district headquarters (DHQs) and tehsil headquarters (THQs) hospitals on daily basis. These Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants for Secondary Health (MSH) and MEA Primary Health cover health facilities and collect information related to health facilities, medical service delivery and attendance of doctors and paramedical staff on specially developed Tablet PCs connected with central database.

The MEAs also visit the Basic Health Units (BHUs) and Rural Health Centers (RHCs). This monitoring staff uses related apps on their devices including Maintenance and Cleaning System (MACs).

Through these devices the MEAs take pictures highlighting cleanliness and also collect information related to hospitals’ equipment, medicine inventory, lights, functionality of labor rooms etc. The information will help the government to take quick policy decisions at highest level without making a visit of these hospitals.

The non-availability of medical and paramedical staff in the DHQs and THQs had always been a major concern for the government and through the system this issue could also be controlled.

The MSH system has also been introduced in the teaching hospitals of the Punjab but the usage of it is underreported.

At total 154 DHQs and THQs in Punjab, these MEAs have so far made 432 visits and collected 10,607 pictures which have been updated into the database system as pictorial evidence of the existing situation of the district and tehsil level hospitals in the province.

Besides Chief Minister of Punjab, health minister, advisor to chief minister for health, secretary health and other official concerned have access of this database who can check the status of the hospitals with one click and take necessary action accordingly.

As the project entered to development phase from infancy as many as two MEAs have to visit one hospital on daily basis to collect the information.

Once an MEA’s report about cleanliness and other missing facilities enters into the system at one facility the Medical Superintendent (MS) of that facility is bound to redress the issue. However if the issue is not addressed and reported again by the MEAs on their second visit, the MS and other related officials are served with warning to address the issue on immediate basis.

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