Underlining the lack of widespread availability of healthcare systems in the country, President Pranab Mukherjee revealed that India still has a long way to go in order to ensure that all of its citizens enjoy access to proper healthcare systems..
President Mukherjee in his inaugural address at the golden jubilee celebrations of the government T D Medical College here, said: "Despite the progress made in our health care system, we still have great distance to cover. The public sector health service in our country is limited by its reach. Many in our population are dependent on the private sector for delivery of health services."
President Mukherjee said it is burdensome for poor people to access expensive medical treatment, and many fall into the trap of poverty on account of that.
"The quality of health care delivery by some of the health service providers also leave much to be desired," said President Mukherjee.
"We must correct this situation by expanding good quality affordable public sector health care facilities. Our public expenditure on health care was 1.04 per cent of GDP during the Eleventh Five Year Plan period. This should rise to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of the Twelfth Plan period if we are to augment public health care in the country in a big way," he added.
President Mukherjee said 'augmenting public resources will by itself not automatically translate into expansion of health care infrastructure unless there is adequate number of competent health care professionals to serve this sector'.
"There were about 241 medical professionals - physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals - per one lakh population in 2011-12. It is envisaged that this density of medical professionals will increase to 354 by the end of the Twelfth Five Year Plan period," he added.
Asserting that there is urgent need for more institutes of learning for imparting medical education, President Mukherjee said: " It is gratifying to note that six AIIMS like institutions are to be set up soon. It is also necessary to increase the capacity of our existing medical schools and nursing colleges and enhance the standard of education in them. I am confident that our public sector medical colleges will meet the twin challenge of greater quantity and better quality."
"No one should be denied specialty medical treatment due to high costs. We must strengthen the mechanism of health insurance. The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana that gives beneficiaries cash less in-patient treatment should provide access to comprehensive primary, secondary and tertiary medical care. The benefits of this scheme should touch every one below the poverty line," he added.
Stating that most new initiatives are now driven by technology, President Mukherjee said India is a global leader in information and communication technology.
"Taking advantage of this, we must build an efficient health information system for universal registration of births and deaths, nutritional surveillance and disease surveillance. A sound database should come handy for our policy makers to make timely interventions," President Mukherjee said.
"Satellite-based technology has made it possible for health care to reach the remotest parts of our country. The tele-medicine project has enabled remotely-located health care centres to interact with super specialty hospitals in urban centres for provision of health care consultation to the needy and under-served population," he added.
President Mukherjee said a sustainable model of health care with the participation of all stakeholders is the need of the hour.
"We have envisaged infant mortality rate to reduce from 44 per 1000 live births to 25 by the end of the Twelfth Plan period, and the maternal mortality rate to reduce from 212 per one lakh live births to 100 during this period. These targets are within our reach but for that comprehensive efforts are essential," he said.