Move to shift Rural Health Training Centre opposed

by Rahul Devi

The decision to relocate the Rural Health Training Centre (RHTC) from Jagatsinghpur District Headquarters Hospital (DHH) premises in Jagatsinghpur, Odisha has sparked opposition from locals and various organizations in the area. The move, which is being planned by the State Health and Family Welfare department, has prompted concerns about the accessibility and quality of healthcare services in the region.

The RHTC in Jagatsinghpur has a long history, having started its operations in 1955 by providing training to medical interns from SCB Medical College and Hospital. Despite the formation of Jagatsinghpur as a new district in 1993, the RHTC remained in its original location. In 1995, there was a proposal to shift the RHTC to Tirtol, located 20 km away, but the idea was met with strong opposition from the residents of Jagatsinghpur and subsequently abandoned.

The RHTC in Jagatsinghpur has gained accolades from the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Central Health department on multiple occasions, thanks to its excellent training facilities for medical interns and health staff. Nevertheless, a State-level health committee has recommended the relocation of the RHTC to Bentkar Community Health Centre (CHC) or Tangi CHC in Cuttack district. The Cuttack Collector has been instructed to identify a suitable plot of land for the relocation.

According to the letter issued by the State Health department on September 5, 2023, the decision to move the RHTC is based on the norms established by the National Medical Commission (NMC). These guidelines state that an RHTC connected with a medical college must be situated within a 30 km radius of the college. However, the SCB Medical College and Hospital-attached RHTC in Jagatsinghpur is currently located 45 km away from Cuttack. Therefore, the department argues that shifting the RHTC closer to Cuttack would ensure compliance with the NMC norms.

The proposed relocation has raised concerns among the local population, who fear that it will adversely affect access to healthcare services in Jagatsinghpur. The move could potentially create difficulties for medical interns and health staff who rely on the RHTC for training purposes. Moreover, the RHTC’s presence in Jagatsinghpur has been a source of pride for the community, considering its recognition from national healthcare authorities.

Several organizations and community leaders have expressed their opposition to the relocation plans and are planning to launch an agitation to protest against the move. They argue that instead of relocating the RHTC, efforts should be made to improve and expand the existing facilities in Jagatsinghpur to ensure that the region’s healthcare needs are adequately met.

While the State Health department’s decision to adhere to NMC guidelines is understandable, it is crucial to consider the sentiments and concerns of the local population. A thorough examination of the potential impact of the relocation on healthcare services, training opportunities, and the overall healthcare ecosystem in Jagatsinghpur is necessary before finalizing any decisions. Collaborative efforts between the government, healthcare authorities, and the local community may help in finding a solution that satisfies all stakeholders.

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