Tamil Nadu has emerged as the preferred destination for medical tourism in the country, with the government prioritising the improvement of health care services in the State, said Health Minister M. R. K. Paneerselvam in Tiruchi on Thursday.

The State government has been upgrading facilities in government hospitals on par with private hospitals to extend top class health care. Expensive liver and heart transplant surgeries were now being performed at the Stanley and the Madras medical college hospitals free of cost.

Tamil Nadu is now being looked up to for its affordable and quality health care services and even foreigners were coming here for treatments, Mr. Paneerselvam observed, speaking at a function to mark the inauguration of a digital X-ray unit and the renovated neo natal ward at the Annal Gandhi Government Hospital attached to the K. A. P. Viswanatham Government Medical College in the city.

The government has sanctioned Rs. 600 crore for purchase of equipment in government hospitals. It has sanctioned the establishment of digital X-ray units in 40 medical college and government hospitals in the State. Ten have already been established and the remaining would start functioning soon.

The government has also decided to set up neo natal wards in all district headquarter hospitals and the first was opened in Tiruchi on Thursday. Construction was underway in the hospitals, and the wards would start functioning in 10 district hospitals next month. Similarly, all district headquarter government hospitals would also be provided with MRI scans and the equipment has been provided to government medical college hospitals already.

Prompt measures undertaken by the government to control the spread of diseases such as the AH1N1 influenza ensured that the State stood in the forefront in preventing loss of human lives due to such new diseases.

Appealing to government doctors and para-medics to discharge their duties sincerely and efficiently, Mr. Paneerselvam reminded the doctors that the DMK government had enacted the Hospital Protection Act to protect their interests. The salaries of government doctors and stipend of house surgeons have also been increased by the government, he said.

Transport Minister K. N. Nehru, District Collector Mahesan Kasirajan, MLAs Anbil Periyasamy, K. N. Sekaran and A. Soundarapandian, Mayor S. Sujatha, District Panchayat Council Chairperson V. Sangeetha, Corporation Commissioner T. T. Balsamy, and Dean of K. A. P. Viswanatham Government Medical College A.Karthikeyan were present.

Rs. 50 crore for Tiruchi medical college hospital

The Annal Gandhi Government Hospital would be upgraded soon and Rs. 50 crore would be sanctioned in the first phase for infrastructure development at the hospital, the Health Minister announced here on Thursday.

A new six-storey building would be built utilising the first instalment of funds. Ten super-speciality wards, each with 30 beds, would be established at the new building, which would have a total floor area of about 8,000 square metres, Mr. Paneerselvam said.

The Minister’s announcement comes in the wake of long pending demand from the city residents for upgrading the hospital, which turned into a public movement after a project to upgrade the hospital on par with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences by the Union government was mooted a few years back.

Transport Minister K. N. Nehru, who represents the Tiruchi II Assembly segment, indicated that the new building would be located in the medical college campus at Periya Milaguparai in the city.

Neo natal ward

The digital X-ray unit at the hospital has been set up at a cost of Rs.1 crore and Rs.12.12 lakhs has been spent for the renovated neo natal ward. About Rs. 25 lakhs worth of equipment are to be provided to the neo natal ward. The establishment of the 24x7 neo natal ward was intended to bring down the mortality rate of newborns.