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Chandigarh, (Gurpreet): Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday congratulated the state Health & Family Welfare department for Punjab’s top ranking among the best performing states in operationalisation of Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs), way ahead of neighbouring Delhi, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

The latest rankings released by the Government of India showcase Punjab’s robust health infrastructure and trained manpower, which have catapulted it to the top rank, while Haryana has slipped to 14 and HP is at 9.  Delhi, with its much touted Healthcare model, lags far behind at rank 29.

Hailing the achievement, which comes at a time when the state is battling the Covid pandemic, the Chief Minister said it showed how well the health department had strengthened its healthcare facilities, and underscored his government’s commitment to providing affordable healthcare to all. Health was the top priority of his government, especially in view of the Coronavirus outbreak which had further highlighted the need for greater investment in medial and health infrastructure, he added.

The ranking was the outcome of the hard work of the dedicated staff of Health and Family Welfare Department, including doctors, paramedics and health workers, who have relentlessly worked day and night as corona warriors, said the Chief Minister. Captain Amarinder also placed on record his deep appreciation for the Health & Family Welfare Minister for this great achievement.

The Chief Minister praised the HWCs for not only effectively handling routine services during the pandemic and lockdown but also in supporting the fight against Covid. Leading from the front, HWC teams are taking samples of COVID suspects. The HWC team regularly visits people who are asked to quarantine themselves in houses, to track down appearance of symptoms and to check if they are following the instructions given to them. They are also involved in contact tracing of COVID positive patients.

In the last five months, 6.8 lakh individuals were screened at the HWCs for hypertension, 4 lakh for diabetes and 6 lakh for oral, breast or cervical cancer. Medicines were dispensed at the HWCs to about 2.4 lakh patients of hypertension and 1.4 lakh diabetes patients, despite the trying circumstances amid COVID-19.

In March 2020, the Punjab government also started telemedicine services at the HWCs, and a telemedicine Hub has been established at Sector 11, Chandigarh, with 4 Medical officers. Under this initiative, the Community Health Officers at the HWC sub center level connects with Medical officers at the hub through video calling. The Medical officer at the hub examines the patient via virtual platform and prescribes medicines as per the signs and symptoms. The CHO then dispenses the medicines to the patient, based on the prescription received through e-Sanjeevni. Till date, about 5000 tele-consultations have been done.

A spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that the HWCs scheme was launched by the Captain Amarinder government in 2019, and currently 2042 HWCs are operational across the state. As many as 1600 Community Health Officers (CHOs) have been appointed at the HWCs and 823 more would be appointed by the end of this year after the completion of their bridge course.

Despite restrictions on movement of people due to COVID-19 pandemic led lockdown, the spokesperson pointed out that HWCs across Punjab recorded 28.1 lakh footfalls in the last five months. The OPD services, Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) services, preventive and curative clinical services for communicable and non-communicable diseases are being provided at these centers by HWC team, including Community Health Officer (CHO) along with a team of Multi-Purpose Workers (male and female) & ASHA workers. A total of 27 Free Essential drugs and 6 diagnostics are available at these centers.

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