A bill for setting up a National Council for 'Human Resources in Health' will be introduced in Parliament soon, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said on Friday.
Addressing students at the 38th convocation ceremony of the All India Institute of Medical Resources here, Dr. Manmohan Singh said: "The bill will seek to create an enabling environment that will address issues of quality, quantity and equitable distribution of medical education resources.
Dr. Manmohan Singh said India needs many more health professionals, of different categories, to fill the huge short fall in the health workforce. Many of our medical colleges are deficient in the learning resources needed to train specialists.
"AIIMS, and similar institutions which are leaders in medical education, have to show the way ahead. They should develop strong distance learning programmes. They should assemble a repository of learning resources which can be easily accessed by undergraduate and postgraduate students all across India," he added.
Highlighting the health policy of his government, Dr. Singh said: "In recent years, the Government of India has adopted a more inclusive and holistic approach towards providing health security in our country, emphasizing therein the importance of improved sanitation, nutrition and clean drinking water."
"The challenges are particularly acute in our rural areas. Whether it is child mortality, immunization coverage, maternal mortality or awareness of HIV-AIDS, rural populations lag far behind their urban counterparts. This is partly due to inadequate availability of health services in rural areas but it is also a reflection of the lower levels of education and income which are important social determinants of our nation's health,' he added.
Dr. Manmohan Singh further said that we have tried to address the critical lacunae of inadequate public provisioning for critical health services.
"The Eleventh Five Year Plan envisaged an increase in public expenditure on health to at least two per cent of GDP. This percentage was below one per cent of our GDP at the start of the Eleventh Plan and has increased to only 1.1 per cent in 2009-10 according to the Mid-Term Appraisal of the Planning Commission," he added.
Saying that in India as well as globally, there is a growing sense that medical education needs a revamp to adapt it to contemporary needs and realities, Dr. Manmohan Singh said the need of the hour is to produce professionals who address health not only from the perspective of the individual patients but as part of a team integrated into the larger health system.
"Inter-disciplinary and health system connectivity have to be the key coordinates on which medical education has to advance. In the future, it is not biology alone that will drive medical care," he added.