The dialogue between Ms Nathishia Rebecca Chandy, CPPR YLF Fellow 2023 and Dr S.S. Lal (MBBS, PhD, MPH, MBA) on the journey of Primary Healthcare Centres to Family Healthcare Centres in Kerala is a critical topic to deliberate on in the current times. As the state prepares for this transition, doing an evaluation and assessment will help the state recognise the gaps and successes. Leveraging these insights can help build a stronger ecosystem with FHCs catering to the healthcare sector keeping in mind its ageing population and the rise in NCD incidences. The dialogue also goes on to discuss the need to understand the intrinsic characteristics of the state to improve different aspects of the nearly 900 primary healthcare centres to provide holistic care to all.
Dr. S.S. Lal (MBBS, PhD, MPH, MBA). Dr. Lal is an internationally acclaimed public health expert with over 25 years of experience working across the globe in leadership roles at WHO, Global Fund, NGOs, private sector, government, and academic spheres. He is the Founder Vice-President, Professor and Head of Public Health at the Global Institute of Public Health, Trivandrum and the Founder President of the Global Foundation for Health and Hygiene, USA. He also serves in advisory capacities for international organisations. He has held positions like the Senior Public Health Advisor to the UNEP and Public Health Consultant to the World Bank and the Global Fund and in his stint with the WHO, he oversaw programme implementation in 25 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe. He has pioneered developing and scaling up innovative public health intervention projects at the local, national, and global levels that have influenced policy changes in disease control.
1. Primary Healthcare is a necessary state intervention required to ensure equitable access to affordable healthcare. Political will, funds and resources are vital to proper implementation of healthcare schemes and programmes.
2. In Kerala, almost 70% of the consumers of healthcare services rely upon and prefer private healthcare facilities. These private healthcare institutions and their service providers must be incentivised by the Government to undertake preventive care in addition to curative care.
3. The transition to health-seeking behaviour from the current treatment-seeking behaviour of populations can only be catalyzed by cultural changes and attitudes towards one’s health.
4. Primary Healthcare in Kerala must be geared towards tackling new healthcare issues on the horizon – the rise of NCD incidence and the medical and social needs of the ageing population.