Guwahati, 15 June (MTNews): The first ever “Northeast Knowledge Conclave for Health” was held in Guwahati today. The conclave is a two day event and will conclude on 16 June. During the event, P Paiwang Konyak, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare of Nagaland, and Y Kikheto Sema, IAS, the Commissioner and Secretary of H&FW, highlighted the lack of healthcare infrastructure in Nagaland and called for continued support from the Government of India, the World Bank, and other financial institutions for the Northeast states, particularly Nagaland.
Minister Paiwang emphasized the importance of the conclave as a platform to learn from each other and showcase achievements in addressing state-specific health issues. He acknowledged that despite being the second oldest state in the Northeast region after Assam, Nagaland has faced challenges in developing infrastructure, including healthcare facilities, due to the fragile law and order situation in the past. However, he expressed gratitude for the peace that has prevailed in Nagaland for nearly a decade, attributing it to the support of stakeholders and the ‘efficient leadership of the Prime Minister and Chief Minister’.
Paiwang urged the World Bank and development partners to continue assisting Nagaland, particularly in the healthcare sector, with a focus on infrastructure development in rural areas. He highlighted the Nagaland Health Project (NHP), the first health sector project in the Northeast states funded by the World Bank.
According to him, the NHP, initiated in 2015 as a pilot in two districts and later scaled up to cover the entire state, has successfully implemented various initiatives, including Community Result Based Financing, improved health and nutrition outcomes at the community level, enhanced service delivery and quality outcomes, and promoted gender inclusion.
Paiwang also acknowledged the NHP’s contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as providing oxygen cylinders and concentrators, constructing oxygen generation plant houses in district hospitals, and installing oxygen pipelines in healthcare facilities. He stressed the importance of sustaining the investments made by the World Bank through the NHP to consolidate the progress achieved over the years.
In a panel discussion on health priorities in the Northeast, Commissioner and Secretary Y Kikheto Sema expressed gratitude to the Union Government for implementing programs to address emerging health issues. He specifically mentioned the establishment of a new medical college and the upgradation of a nursing school to a college, offering nursing programs. Sema highlighted the State Government’s initiatives to improve the overall health scenario, including the Chief Minister’s Health Insurance Scheme (CMHIS) and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
Sema mentioned significant achievements in Nagaland’s health sector, such as having the lowest infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the country and being recognized for effectively controlling malaria in the Northeast region. He also acknowledged the World Bank’s support in initiating and backing health system strengthening projects in the state.
However, Sema emphasized the challenges faced by the healthcare system, particularly in addressing drug addiction and the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases. He assured the audience of Nagaland’s commitment to national targets, such as ending tuberculosis and eliminating malaria. However, he expressed skepticism regarding the goal of ending AIDS and HIV by 2030 due to the high number of positive cases in the state.
Sema highlighted the inadequate health infrastructure in rural areas and called for continued support from the Government of India, the World Bank, and other financial institutions. He noted that Nagaland has been unable to access external assistance policies like other states, making sustained support crucial.
The conclave also witnessed the participation of health ministers and secretaries from Northeastern states, along with the Country Director of the World Bank India and other resource persons.