A lot of ground needs to be covered to ensure quality healthcare for all. Reducing the burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, reducing infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) and providing nutrition are some of the areas where concerted efforts are needed, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu N. Ram said here on Sunday.

Inaugurating the Diabetic Foot Care Clinic of Ganga Hospital in the city, he said the Results Framework Document for the Department of Health and Family Welfare contained the promise of equitable, affordable and quality healthcare.

And, there was the assurance of strengthening the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare system, training of human resources in healthcare and rational use of pharmaceuticals. These were targets to be achieved by the end of the XII Five Year Plan. “But, we are still far behind and people are cynical that any progress will be made. This called for efforts to address mass deprivation,” he said.

National family health surveys had revealed that States that had done well earlier in many areas of healthcare had slipped between two surveys in the same areas. “This only revealed complacency on their part.”

Tamil Nadu had done well because of an excellent primary health care system. Good governance by whoever was in power had ensured this. The State's record was good in controlling MMR. The rate of three ante-natal visits was 96.5 per cent and institutional deliveries (in hospitals) stood at 90.4 per cent.

But, nutrition needed more attention. As much as 72.7 per cent of the children in the six months to 35 months age group were anaemic.

Pointing out that Coimbatore had done well in healthcare, he appreciated Ganga Hospital's emphasis on providing equal attention to quality and quantity.

Stating that diabetes was a major public health problem with 40 million known cases in the country, Executive Director of Pricol Limited Vanita Mohan pointed out that a campaign for prevention would be successful if it began from school students, especially in view of the fast food they consumed.

Much of the complications, in the form of organ damage, caused by diabetes could be prevented. But, there was very little information available to spread awareness among the people. Ms. Mohan, who is the Managing Trustee of Siruthuli, which campaigns for water resources and green spaces conservation, said the organisation could spread through its students fora the message of diabetes prevention.

Constant innovation was needed in healthcare and the diabetic foot clinic was one such effort in treating complications.

Head of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Microsurgery S. Raja Sabapathy said the foot was an engineering marvel. It was structured to endure at least 10,000 steps a day for up to 80 years.

Therefore, it was important to protect it from damage due to diabetes. The clinic would periodically check for the level of sensation in the feet of diabetics because loss of sensation kept the patient ignorant of the severity of a wound in the feet.

Chairman and Managing Director of the Hospital J.G. Shanmughanathan and Head of Orthopaedics and Spine Surgery S. Rajasekaran spoke.