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Activists seek better healthcare info management

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SummaryFollow-up discussion to Praja findings emphasises on improvement measures.

Follow-up discussion to Praja findings emphasises on improvement measures.

NGOs and activists have called for strengthening the health management information system (MIS) of the city to formulate better healthcare policies, predict trends and devise ways to reduce incidence of diseases.

Five months after Praja Foundation released a white paper on dismal health conditions in the city, a follow-up discussion last week stressed on strengthening MIS.

The paper, State of Health in Mumbai, released in July raised several red flags. It said 75 per cent of Mumbaikars went to private clinics and hospitals for healthcare and hence, there was a need for a strong mechanism to collect data indicators from these clinics and hospitals.

It said data on only 25 per cent of citizens visiting government hospitals were available.

The first round-table discussion on discrepancies in data collection systems saw participation of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) health officers and doctors, members of various research organisations and Praja Foundation.

“To plan an effective healthcare policy, right kind of data that are rich in quantity as well as quality are important. Data that can — and often do — predict healthcare trends and that can include various components of healthcare. Data can be very effective in devising ways and means to prevent or reduce incidence of diseases,” said Nitai Mehta, founder trustee of Praja Foundation.

The Praja report that claimed an estimated 3.9 lakh people in the city were affected by malaria, even though the official figure was around 29,828, created a stir.

Deputy executive health officer Santosh Revankar said BMC had a strong data collection system.

“MIS has been located at Kasturba Hospital since 2007. Data regarding births, deaths and diseases are collected from all health posts and hospitals and consolidated at the head office. There is also a double-check system where senior officers make surprise checks to prevent false reporting,” he said.

DM Sukhtankar, former Mumbai municipal commissioner and former chief secretary, Maharashtra, who chaired the discussion, said, “It is crucial for the government to devise means — through a carrot-and-stick policy, if need be — to collect data from non-government healthcare sources.”

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