After independence health services have been provided in rural areas.
These services are being developed under Minimum Needs Programme.
The following health institutions have been functioning in rural areas:
1. Primary Health Centres (PHCs):
As the name suggests, Primary Health Centre is the basic unit providing health services to rural masses. The scheme was launched during First Five Year Plan. Every block in the country in having a PHC. It has 2 medical officers, pharmacist, staff nurse, laboratory technician and other staff. In 1991 there were 22,000 PHCs in the country.
2. Sub Centres:
Sub centres have been established in rural areas especially to provide family planning service to the people. These are run by trained Auxiliary nurse (ANM) and a multipurpose health worker.
3. Community Health Centres (CHC):
The Community Health Centres are set up to provide specialised health services for one lakh population. It is a 30 bed hospital with specialist doctors in medicine, surgery, women and children diseases. X-Ray, ECG and Laboratory facilities etc. are also available here.
4. Multi Purpose Workers (MPWs) Scheme:
The workers engaged in the control and eradication of communicable diseases are made multipurpose health workers through a special training. The MPWs are basic level workers and are the backbone of health services. They provide promotive, preventive and family welfare services to village people.
5. Village Health Guides (VHGs):
The community health workers were renamed as Village Health Guides after October 1977. VHGs have been trained in basic health and hygiene and treatment of common diseases. They promote health awareness among the rural people. They are provided with a medical kit and paid some allowance. They act as a chain between the village and the primary health centres.