GUWAHATI, March 1 - The Asom Jyestha Nagorik Sanmilan (Assam Senior Citizens� Association) has urged Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to address the health-related concerns of the 24 lakh senior citizens of the State in consonance with the operational guidelines of the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly under the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
In a memorandum to the Health Minister, the ASCA said that despite the fact that a staggering eight lakh elderly people of the State have been suffering from various geriatric ailments, the medical college hospitals of the State lack specialised geriatric care, seriously affecting the elderly populace.
�The circumstances warrant opening of geriatric courses in the medical colleges for proper treatment to the elderly geriatric patients. Besides, there should be two rooms with the requisite facilities in every government hospital in the districts for senior citizens,� it said, adding that the Government should facilitate shifting of critical geriatric patients outside the State for treatment.
The National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly provides for an institutional framework for implementation of the NPHCE with specific roles for the State governments.
�Financial management group (FMG) of programme management support units at the State and district level, which is established under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), will be responsible for financial management (maintenance of accounts, release of funds, expenditure reports, utilisation of certificates and audit arrangements). Financial monitoring format for the programme developed by the programme division will be communicated to the FMG for this purpose. Funds from the Government of India will be released to the State Health Society. The State Health Society will retain funds for State-level activity and release GIA to the District Health Societies. The NPHCE will operate through NCD cells under the programme constituted at the State and district levels and also maintain separate bank accounts of the NCD cell after requisite approvals at the appropriate stage,� the guidelines read.
The guidelines further stipulate that the State/UT shall enter into an MoU with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and among others, appoint a State nodal officer for liaison with the Central Government, various State and district authorities as well as Regional Medical Institutes.
The State share is 20 per cent, while there should also be provision of land/space for the geriatric ward and OPD; provision for supportive faculty in specialities other than Internal medicine; provision for diagnostic support service like laboratory, radiological and other investigation facilities; supplementing the expenditure on equipment, drugs, and consumables; starting of PG course in Geriatric Medicine at two seats per year in Regional Medical Institutes (by the States in which Regional Medical Institutes are located); setting up of rehabilitation units at Community Health Centres (CHCs), and taking over responsibility from the Central Government once the units are fully functional.
�The State NCD Cells constituted under the NPCDCS will also implement and monitor the NPHCE. The State NCD Cell will be established preferably in the Directorate of Health Services or any other space provided by the State Government. The NCD Cell will be responsible for overall planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the different activities, and achievement of physical and financial targets planned under the programme in the State. The Cell will function under the guidance of the State Programme Officer (SPO-NCD) and will be supported by the identified officers/officials from the Directorate/Director General of Health Services. The SPO (NCD) will be a State-level health official identified by the State Government.
The association also urged the State Government to regularise old-age pension and prepare an authentic list of pensioners, besides ensuring all other benefits due to the senior citizens.
It further demanded that the Assam State Policy for the Elderly published on February 25, 2016 be amended as it was not based on the Centre�s National Policy for Senior Citizens, 2011.