The Meghalaya government on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tamil Nadu government through which the latter has agreed to support Meghalaya for the recruitment and training of medical professionals. This is a first-of-its-kind medical partnership between the two Indian states for collaboration on knowledge sharing, capacity building and improving health service delivery.
The MoU was signed by Sampath Kumar, Principal Health Secretary, Government of Meghalaya and Dr P Senthil Kumar, Principal Health Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, in the presence of Meghalaya’s Health Minister James PK Sangma, who also met with Tamil Nadu’s Minister of Medical & Family Welfare Department, Ma Subramanian to formalise the signing of MoU.
Addressing the gathering, Meghalaya Health Minister lauded the Tamil Nadu government for its “proactive approaches” undertaken to improve the health sector.
He added that this will immensely benefit Meghalaya as the excellence and proactive approaches demonstrated by Tamil Nadu in the health sector, under Health Minister Ma Subramanian were commendable and worth emulating.
Following the signing of the MoU, Meghalaya’s Principal Health Secretary Sampath Kumar, also met with Tamil Nadu’s Principal Health Secretary, Dr P Senthil Kumar, in his office. They discussed at length the possibility of a fellowship programme for medical specialists to be posted to serve in Meghalaya’s rural pockets to improve health service delivery. The steps to take this forward and suggestions were considered at length.
The MoU will facilitate the training of doctors, especially in remote Community Health Centers (CHCs), to overcome the shortage of certified and trained medical professionals for several critical functions, including ultrasonography, obstetrics and anesthesiology.
The intent behind this is to provide better antenatal and postpartum care to expecting women and to women after delivery, especially at public health facilities in remote locations. The MoU is targeted at upgrading all CHCs in the State as First Referral Units (FRUs) by overcoming the shortage of medical specialists in the CHCs. And for this, the Government of Tamil Nadu has agreed to give training to state doctors, which has been identified as one of the important steps to strengthen health systems in Meghalaya.
The Health officials from Tamil Nadu also shared a detailed presentation to highlight the current health interventions that are underway in their state, and how the state is using innovative mechanisms that are hugely responsible for its good performance in health indicators.
As a part of knowledge sharing and understanding of Tamil Nadu’s best practices in the medical domain, the state health officials also visited Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), Chennai. The team also visited the Tamil Nadu Medical Service Corporation (TNMSC), Egmore where a presentation of the working and best practices of TNMSC as well as of the Medical Services Recruitment Board were highlighted.
This MoU is part of Meghalaya’s efforts to improve its health indicators and is one of the several packaged interventions including the Chief Minister’s Safe Motherhood Scheme (CM-SMS) under the rescue mission initiative to reduce MMR and IMR, aimed at strengthening and ensuring safe deliveries in remote areas.
It has also been initiated as part of the State Government’s Service Delivery Redesign (SDR) aimed at creating accessible healthcare in remote pockets.
This MoU has been initiated alongside the already existing ADARSH programme (Design and adoption of Alternate models for Responding to address the shortage of medical specialists in Meghalaya) that has been initiated in 2020 for the initiation of post-graduate diploma courses to address a shortage of medical doctors in Meghalaya. This is part of Meghalaya's greater objective of implementing the MOTHER Health Policy that was passed by the Cabinet in March 2021.
Given the fact that high-quality training and skills are readily available in Tamil Nadu state (with its reputed medical institutions and certification programs for the medical fraternity), the GoTN will support the GoM to simultaneously retain a high capacity, motivated workforce, and provide for the health needs of the entire population. The program will implement a two-pronged strategy of capacity building that is going to be mutually beneficial for the public health systems of both states.
The MoU was signed in the presence of Dr Joram Beda, Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, R.M Kurbah, Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Ramkumar, Additional Secretary and Mission Director NHM-Meghalaya, Dr H.S Lyndem, DHS-MI and Dr L Challam, DHS-MCH&FW, representing the State of Meghalaya.
Representing the State of Tamil Nadu, the officials present were Shilpa Prabhakar Satish, IAS, Mission Director, NHM- Tamil Nadu, Dr Narayanababu, Director of Medical Education; Dr Shamshath Begum, Director of Medical & Rural Health Services; Dr Jerard M. Selvam; Additional Director- NHM- TN; Dr Vimala, Dean, Madras Medical College, Chennai; Dr T. S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine; R. Alagumeena, State Programme Manager, NHM-TN; Dr J. Muthukumaran, Addl. Director of Medical Education; Thiru V. S. Sivakumar, Financial Advisor cum Chief Accounts Officer, Office of Director of Medical Education and Dr M. Indhumathy, Deputy Director of Medical Education among other officials.