|Image Credit – Pippa Ranger/Department for International Development’|
A Sub-Centre is the smallest or let’s say, the grass-root level of primary health care system in India. Situated in the peripheries of every village in India, it serves as the link between the community and the health care system. Usually, there are about 6 Sub-Centres under every Primary Health Centre (PHC). Only very few Sub-Centres in India function in Government owned buildings. The vast majority of these centres often work in rented buildings. A female health worker, aka Junior Public Health Nurse (JPHN) sometimes resides in these centres to provide basic health care services to the community.
Staff pattern of a Sub-Centre
Sub-Centres are manned with one Male Multi Purpose Health Worker, commonly called as Junior Health Inspectors (JHI) in Kerala and one JPHN. The concerned ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) works for the community with the Sub-Centre as the base. There is also a provision to appoint a voluntary lady worker for every Sub-Centre. One Lady Health Worker is assigned the duty of supervising six Sub-Centres.
If you want to know more about Health Workers in a public hospital, read this article.
Functions of a Sub-Centre
The main purpose of a Sub-Centre is to act as the first contact point for the community and the Primary health care system. It is the first accessible point for every rural individual to modern health care. The main functions of a Sub-Centre can be listed with these bullets :-
- Providing basic medical services for the community. Every Sub-Centre is equipped with medical kits containing common medicines for minor ailments.
- Providing maternal and child health services like Immunization, health education etc
- Providing family planning and welfare services like contraception, maintaining eligible couple registers,
- Providing nutrition services,
- Providing diarrhoea control services like ORS, well chlorination,
- Helps in building up an Interpersonal communication in order to bring about behavioural changes in the community.
Any kind of improvements in healthcare system needs to be focussed on the base of the healthcare pyramid. The base of this pyramid is made up of Primary Health Care and not the speciality hospitals. More infrastructure should be made available in this level. Good buildings and basic sanitation facilities should be installed in every Sub-Centres. Without strengthening the base of the pyramid, how do we expect ourselves to stabilise our healthcare system? There are many PHCs in India which are surprisingly under-staffed. In some cases, Sub-Centres exists only in the name of the place. It is high time for the decision makers to focus more on the Primary Health Care system. I hope this article was helpful.
My views on India’s healthcare system can be found here.