The State of India's Health, released by VHAI in 1995, is considered a landmark in health-related writing in India. Subsequently, several states of India have released their own reports and developed active local groups working together for common areas of advocacy in public health. The objectives of this project is to prepare a report on public health issues in Goa and to host a meeting of stakeholders in health in Goa to consider the implications of the report and to facilitate the formation of a local public health action group. A range of topics pertaining to the wider public health issues in Goa were identified, ranging from HIV/AIDS and malaria to women and child health, from public and private health financing to medical ethics and training. A list of experts in Goa were invited to contribute on various topics and these contributions formed the State of Goa's Health Report. The Report was formally released in April 2000 at a conference aimed at discussing the public health issues in Goa. This project is the first step in Sangath's involvement in broader issues pertaining to public health in the region. It is hoped that it will lead to further growth in our activities in advocacy, documentation and dissemination of important issues pertaining to public health and community development in Goa.
Several recommendations can be made on the basis of the contributions to the State of Goa's Health report. These include:
- Partnerships between sectors: Partnerships are essential between the public and private medical sectors, between medicine and other disciplines, between industry and voluntary organisations.
- Health-centred development: All development must be people-centred. The establishment of a public health monitoring group, with representatives from all sectors of society, may be a useful way of ensuring that a health dimension is always considered in major policy issues in Goa.
Improving quality of health services: It is essential for doctors to recognise the important role they play in health by showing vision to discipline their own members by education on sensible prescribing and ethical management of patient care. Major public health institutions such as the medical school need to be given autonomy to minimise political interference. Tighter regulation of nursing homes may include regular visits by the monitoring team to ensure good practice.
Improving working conditions for non-medical health workers: It is essential to improve the working conditions of professionals such as nurses and rehabilitation therapists in order to attract more candidates to these professions.
Greater support to the weak and marginalised: Some groups in our community, such as migrant workers, elders and the disabled, need special attention because their health needs may differ from the rest.
Research & Training: Systematic documentation and research is needed to define our health needs in less understood areas such as road accidents, mental disease, school drop-out, heart disease and health economics.
For a copy of the Report, please contact the Sangath Society or VHAI (New Delhi).