Puducherry, June 30 (IBNS): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the Centre is proposing a new National Urban Health Mission in order to focus on the health challenges in Indian towns and cities.
He said the government has decided to continue the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for the next five years.
“Our Government has decided to continue the National Rural Health Mission for the next five years. We are now proposing a new National Urban Health Mission in order to focus on the health challenges in our towns and our cities,” Singh said at the third convocation of the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research on Saturday.
Speaking on the NRHM, he said: " Seven years ago we launched the National Rural Health Mission to deal with some of these challenges. There was a massive infusion of human resources at the cutting-edge levels with the induction of several lakh health workers and accredited social health activists (ASHA) across the country."
"My esteemed friend Ghulam Nabi Azad (Union Health Minister) has mentioned the widespread changes that have been introduced in the infrastructure providing health-care in our country in the last three years. I compliment Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad for these achievements," he said.
"The NRHM has shown that health indicators can be improved with concerted focus on public health systems at primary and secondary levels. Infant and maternal mortality rates have fallen and institutional deliveries have increased. But much more needs to be done and there is a large unfinished agenda of providing affordable healthcare for all our people," Singh said.
“The scarcity of doctors, nurses, health workers, public health professionals is emerging as one of the most important impediments to providing universal health coverage for all,” Singh said.
“This shortage is acute in our rural areas and in particular, in the northern, central and eastern regions of the country. Against a desirable rate of 1 doctor per 1000 population we have one doctor per 2000 people. Against a norm of 3 nurses per doctor, we have 3 nurses for every 2 doctors,” he said.
“The centre and the state governments, particularly state governments of the under-served regions, need to put their heads together, prepare strategies and implement urgent measures to remedy the situation,” the PM said.
Hailing Ghulam Nabi Azad, Singh said: “I am very happy that under the guidance of Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is paying increasing attention to filling up these gaps in our health system. “
Speaking on medical education, he said: “The quality of medical education is another concern. There is a perception of deteriorating quality. We cannot allow this situation to continue or to persist.”
"We must put in place a credible regulatory and institutional mechanism to help develop standards in our medical education,” he said.
“We also need to take a serious look at the curriculum for medical education so that doctors are trained to look at health in a truly holistic manner, and that it goes beyond a narrow clinical and technology-driven approach,” Singh said.
“Apart from the study of health and disease, knowledge of health economics, ethics, patient rights, behaviour change communication and information technology should inform and influence the design and delivery of our health care systems,” he said.
He said the challenge for policy makers in India ‘is to ensure proper development of the various segments of our health care system’.
He said the Central Government has taken several steps to strengthen medical education in our country.
Singh said the number of undergraduate and post graduate seats has been greatly increased in the last three years.
“The Medical Council of India norms have been rationalised and new medical colleges have been opened all over the country,” the PM said.
“The Union Health Ministry is taking measures to set up new medical colleges particularly in under-served regions. Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, construction of 6 AIIMS-like institutions at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh is in full swing,” he said.
“The medical colleges are expected to be functional from the academic session 2012-13 and the hospitals by 2013-14,” Singh said.