The Secretary of the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, K Sujatha Rao, emphasized the need for the Union Government to make mandatory a comprehensive Universal Health Insurance System for the people.
She advocates the utilization of 9 % of the GDP on health and adopt a cross-sectoral approach which should include education, socio-economic growth and provision of basic infrastructural needs.
Inaugurating the two-day National Conference on 'Leadership in Healthcare' organized by the Christian Medical College Hospital (CMCH) at Vellore on November 11, 2005, Sujatha Rao, who is also the Principal Secretary, Health Sector Reforms, Andhra Pradesh, said that the Commission members felt that such an allocation alone would solve basic problems relating to health.
The present Union government had shown commendable understanding of the situation, she said pointing out that the panel was chaired by Finance Minister P Chidambaram. She expressed the hope that the allocation would go up significantly from the present figure of 0.9 %.
"The challenges for the future are malnutrition, an ageing population and an increased disease burden on account of newer infections and the emergence of epidemic of non-communicable diseases that in the absence of social security systems have the potential to impoverish the people," she said. More investment in health would herald quicker economic development and equitable growth, she added.
She also emphasized that healthcare should be affordable and accessible to all the people, as India is in great need of a healthy work force and it is essential that the crores of people who lived below the poverty line be provided not just with food but also balanced diet which should include nutrients.
Rao underlined the need for social churning in society to instill a high professional and ethical standard.
Director of the CMCH, Dr George M Chandy, welcomed the dialogue initiated by the Union government to ensure equitable development and a healthy future for the people of the country. He said he was glad that the Union government was now talking of concerns for the poor and about efforts to reach them in health programmes.
He said that the two-day conference would be utilised to work out a network of health institutions across the country to provide decentralised health care delivery system.
The CMC, Vellore, which had pioneered several projects in the country and initiated programmes aimed at caring for the marginalised and the downtrodden, had organised the conference to bring together healthcare professionals from different parts of the country to consider effective, appropriate models of healthcare.