They will be utilised for free ambulance service (EMRI 108)

The State government will purchase 200 more ambulances with World Bank funding for the free ambulance service (EMRI 108) that has saved 27,404 lives so far, said Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin here on Saturday.

Inaugurating an Advanced Centre for Gastrointestinal (GI) and Liver Diseases at MIOT Hospitals on Saturday, Mr. Stalin said the government, in association with EMRI, was running a free ambulance service with a fleet of 385 vehicles serving public round-the-clock in all the districts.

The budgetary allocation for health care was close to Rs.4,000 crore this fiscal. The government had spent over Rs 600 crore to procure equipment for public hospitals and primary health centres for specialised and surgical services.

Stating that 60 to 70 per cent of the population had GI problems, Mr. Stalin said the number of people dying of Hepatitis B was ten times more than that of those losing lives to AIDS. Cancer in digestive parts accounted for a high percentage of cancer deaths. Early diagnosis was essential to prevent these diseases. He praised MIOT for equipping the centre with state-of-the-art machines.

George Chandy, head of gastroenterology department, said the centre was equipped with latest technology in investigation and surgery of GI and liver diseases such as spy glass, capsule endoscopy, endoscopic ultra sound, nasal endoscopy, paediatric endoscopy and high resolution manometry and pH studies. While narrow banding imaging would pick up early cancers of the stomach, the ERBE hybrid knife, the first installation in the country, would ensure there was no bleeding. For the first few months, MIOT's GI and Liver Centre would provide free vaccination to children for Hepatitis B, he said.

Mallika Mohandas, Chairman, MIOT Hospitals, P.V.A. Mohandas, Managing Director, MIOT, spoke. Ministers Parithi Ellamvazhuthi and T.M. Anbarasan participated.