Despite being the number one provider of quality healthcare delivery in Tamil Nadu, there was an acute shortage of specialists. Public-private partnerships (PPP) would help in filling this vacuum, Health Secretary V.K. Subburaj said on Friday.

Speaking after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Upgraded Primary Health Centre in Medavakkam and Lifeline Group of Hospitals, the senior official said inadequate specialised medical education was an important reason for this problem. He said the problem of inadequate specialists was not restricted to Tamil Nadu but the whole of India. For instance, India required one lakh psychiatrists, but had only 3,500. PHCs were functioning extremely well. “PHCs have become a centre of activity owing to adequate doctors, facilities and equipment,” he said.

J.S. Rajkumar, chairman, Lifeline Group of Hospitals, said Medavakkam PHC had been rapidly transformed into a premier establishment over the past couple of years. If all PHCs were like the facility in Medavakkam, health service delivery to people would improve tremendously.

S.Elango, Director of Public Health, said primary healthcare in Tamil Nadu was far better than even China, where field doctors were still bare-footed. The upgraded Medavakkam PHC had become a model for public-private partnership at the national level.

R. Desigan, President, Catalyst Trust; K. Vanaja, Deputy Director of Health Services, Saidapet Health Unit District and Ramya Glory, Block Medical Officer, St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union, were present.

As per the MoU, Lifeline Hospitals would send a gynaecologist to the hospital three times a week to assist in deliveries and all minor surgeries would be performed at the PHC by a visiting surgeon, while more complicated surgeries would be performed free at their hospital in Perungudi.