Maharashtra, GE to modernise rural health care

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Maharashtra
Mumbai, May 17: Maharashtra has initiated steps to modernise its rural healthcare network with a tie-up with an international consortium, an official said here Friday.

The state health department has joined hands with a Wipro GE Healthcare-led consortium which will invest in advanced diagnostic imaging facilities worth Rs.1.50 billion over the next 10 years.

To be made available within a year, these facilities -- including X-ray machines, CT and MRI scanners -- shall be available to patients round-the-clock at affordable rates fixed by the government.

Those from the below poverty line and other economically backward categories shall receive free diagnostic services under the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana (RGJAY) scheme.

The facilities will be available at 35 hospitals, including district hospitals, women's hospitals and general hospitals around the state.

"We are on a first of its kind, large-scale modernisation of district hospitals with latest diagnostic technologies as the state government is committed to providing better and affordable healthcare to its people," Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, launching the public-private partnership (PPP) Friday afternoon.

As per the PPP, the private partner will install four 64 slice CT scanners, 13 advanced 16-slice scanners, eight cutting edge 1.5T MRI systems, 22 high-end digital radiography systems, 39 colour Doppler systems and 39 analog X-ray units, on infrastructure provided by the government.

These advanced, world-class imaging systems shall allow far-flung district hospitals to provide timely and accurate diagnosis in major clinical specialty areas of neurology, cardiology, vascular imaging, emergency/trauma, oncology, obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics, gastroenterology.

Women's health will get a special boost with installation of 20 screening mammography units for early detection of breast cancers by GE.

"Providing high quality, accessible and affordable healthcare is one of the biggest challenges faced all over the world. Through progressive PPPs, like the one with the Maharashtra government, patients are the biggest winners as they will have access to advanced and affordable healthcare that previously was not available to them," said GE vice chairman John Rice.

GE South Asia president and CEO Banmali Agrawala said that this was the second PPP with the state government, the first being GE's setting up its advanced multi-modal manufacturing plant near Pune, signed in June 2012.

Presently, 38 district and other big hospitals cater to around 100 million patients each year in the state.

According to estimates, these hospitals carry out 100,000 CT Scans, 50,000 MRIs, 300,000 colour Dopplers, 900,000 X-rays and 40,000 mammography examinations.

However, in the absence of quality diagnostic imaging equipment, patients are compelled to approach private services which charge exorbitant and uneven rates from them.

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