Vazhakkad: A government Primary Health Centre in Kerala, destroyed in the 2018 floods, has been rebuilt as India's largest family health centre with support from a leading international healthcare service provider.
Fully funded by Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, an NRI entrepreneur from Kerala, and Chairman and Managing Director of VPS Healthcare, a leading healthcare service provider in GCC nations and India, the reconstructed family health centre at Vazhakkad is equipped with the most advanced technology to serve the poor and marginalised people.
The 15,000 sq. ft. family health centre, reconstructed at a cost of Rs 10 crore, is the first of its kind in the country to promote the concept of total health and wellness. It has an open gym and a play area for children, and is disabled-friendly.
The eco-friendly, energy-efficient building was designed and developed by the students and faculty of IIT-Madras and the Government Engineering College, Thrissur.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the Vazhakkad family health centre on Saturday, July 24.
Destroyed in the devastating 2018 floods, a government-run primary health centre at Vazhakkad in Kerala's Malappuram district has got a new lease of life. The ruined health centre has now acquired a modern face and possesses infrastructure matching a contemporary hospital.
Reconstructed under the VPS-Rebuild Kerala initiative for Rs 10 crore, the state-of-the-art facility is the first of its kind in the country and touted as the largest among government-run primary health centres (PHCs) in the country.
Breaking with tradition, the rebuilt centre aims to serve a larger purpose of enhancing the health and wellness of the community. Distinctly different from a regular PHC, it has an open gym, a play area for children, and other amenities to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Nestled in rural Malappuram, the PHC has an advanced laboratory and modern imaging department. It has 10 observation beds with oxygen concentrators and a stabilisation unit to attend to patients suffering from low oxygen saturation.
"Vazhakkad is home to ordinary people who had relied on the primary health centre for most of their routine medical check-ups and needs," said Dr K. Sakeena, District Medical Officer. "The facility used to attend to around 75,000 people annually. Now renamed Family Health Centre, it is expected to see around 200,000 patients a year. This figure underscores the significance of the centre in the lives of the people here. It is also a testament to the quality of the services provided at the facility."
Dr Sakeena thanked Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director of VPS Healthcare, a leading integrated healthcare service provider in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and India, for his generosity in funding the project. "The district health department and the people of Vazhakkad are profoundly happy," Dr Sakeena said.
"The reconstruction of the ruined health centre was our dream. The people here have been longing for the accomplishment of the project. The health centre will also strengthen our relentless efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. We will always be grateful to Dr Shamsheer Vayalil for his support," Dr Sakeena added.
The government of Kerala has made enormous advances in healthcare in recent years. The impetus came through the Aardram Mission, an ambitious project adopted by the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government to upgrade and re-engineer primary health centres as family health centres. The mission has helped the state to make significant progress towards making quality healthcare accessible to the poor and marginalised.
VPS Healthcare's Vazhakkad project has been in line with the state government's vision. The healthcare group, with its vast international experience, has ensured the family health centre measures up to the highest global standards. Putting the Vazhakkad project in perspective, healthcare expert and the state's former additional chief secretary (health and family welfare), Rajeev Sadanandan, said it highlights the extensive scope of the Aardram Mission.
"When the Kerala government decided to transform the Primary Health Centres into Family Health Centres as part of the Aardram Mission, it was planned to be financed with state and local government funds, and supported by civil society," Sadanandan said.
"In some panchayats, however, this plan was disrupted by the disastrous floods in 2018. That is when, based on his considerable expertise in the health sector, Dr Shamsheer decided to build an institution in Vazhakkad that matches international specifications as part of his CSR initiative," Sadanandan added.
The reconstructed family health centre is a modern structure developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and designed by a group of students from the School of Architecture and Planning at Government Engineering College (GEC), Thrissur.
The eco-friendly Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) panel technology known as Rapidwall has been used to build the centre. The technology eliminates bricks, blocks, timber and plasterboard linings, making the building environment-friendly, non-polluting, energy-efficient, and aesthetically pleasing.
"In the last two floods that occurred in Kerala, a number of buildings collapsed and several people lost their homes. It is in this context that eco-friendly and sustainable construction becomes important. When VPS Healthcare approached us for the Vazhakkad family health centre reconstruction project, our team at IIT-Madras recommended the GFRG technology," Dr Cherian said.
GFRG is a building panel product made out of waste gypsum. It offers the advantages of rapidity, sustainability and affordability in construction. Research carried out at IIT-Madras established the use of panels as walls and slabs. The technology enables buildings up to ten-storey-high to avoid beams and columns.
The recommendation of the experts at IIT-Madras was based on the performance of GFRG buildings in Kerala during the 2018 floods.
Spread over 15,000 square feet, the three-storey family health centre has an emergency room, a mini-operating theatre, consultation rooms for doctors, a nurses' station, medical store, vaccine store, sample collection centre, vision and dental care clinic, a designated zone for mother and child, pregnant women and the elderly. The second floor has a modern conference hall and houses the administrative offices.
From the beginning, members of the community were actively involved in the reconstruction project. The idea was to spread the message of inclusiveness. Some 40 students from the School of Architecture and Planning at GEC Thrissur pitched in to provide design support.
The Head of the School, Prof. C.A. Biju, said the students had a great learning experience by engaging themselves in the project. "The college has a well-designed outreach programme set up with the vision to offer first-hand experience to our students," Biju said.