Provide free medical service to the very poor: Prime Minister

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made it clear that private hospitals have a social obligation to provide free medical care to some of the very poor people and that will be the justification for encouraging the private hospital system in the country.

Stating that it was necessary that efforts of the government were supplemented by the private sector, he hoped that hospitals would bear their obligation in mind. “Our Government's aim is to provide good medical care at affordable cost to the people of India. In the public hospitals system, medical care is provided almost entirely free. However, given the vastness of the country and the large population, it is necessary that the efforts of the Government are supplemented by the private sector and that will be the justification for encouraging private hospitals system,” the Prime Minister said.

He was here to formally inaugurate two hospitals – 110-bed Apollo Reach Hospital and Vasan Eye Care Hospital – in the presence of Governor K. Rosiah and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram here on Monday. Dr. Singh told private hospitals that while they had an obligation to provide medical care at an affordable cost to the people, it was also their social obligation to provide free medical care to some of the very poor people.

Stating that the UPA government at the Centre had laid great emphasis on healthcare, the Prime Minister said that the National Rural Health Mission had become one of its flagship programmes.

In the last six years till March 2011, about Rs.63,000 crore was released to the States under the NRHM. Over 1.4 lakh personnel, including doctors, specialists, nurses and paramedics, were added to the health system.

Earlier, after inaugurating the Apollo Reach Hospital, the Prime Minister congratulated Apollo Hospitals Group Chairman Prathap C. Reddy for bringing world class medical facility to many parts of India.

“Through the model of Apollo Reach Hospitals, he (Dr. Reddy) is bringing the best medical facilities to rural India locations such as Sivaganga. ,” Dr. Singh said.

He also lauded Vasan Eye Hospital Group Chairman A. M. Arun for inaugurating the group's 100th eye hospital at Karaikudi.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who spoke in Tamil after seeking the Prime Minister's permission, said it was Dr. Singh who laid the foundation stone in September 2008 for the Karaikudi Apollo Reach Hospital at a function in Chennai and it was now ready.

“The Prime Minister has come all the way from New Delhi to Karaikudi to inaugurate two hospitals. People in this area will benefit a lot since they will get top class health care facilities,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

Mr. Reddy welcomed the five-year tax holiday announced for hospitals started outside metros.

“The stimulus that the Government gives will help and transform the health sector in India. The country needs one lakh more beds in hospitals in the next 10 years.,” Dr. Reddy observed.

Apollo Hospitals Managing Director Preetha Reddy and Vasan Eye Hospital Group Chairman A. M. Arun were present.