After its massive success in its poll promises on low-cost housing, the Congress in Gujarat on Tuesday promised cheaper health care services for the people if the party is voted to power in the coming State Assembly elections.

Unfolding the party’s latest edition of the “Vision for the People – 2012,” which is part of the Congress Party’s election manifesto, the State Congress president Arjun Modhwadia, the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil, the and the chairman of the party’s election campaign committee Shankarsinh Vaghela, said medicines would be made available in the government hospitals in their generic forms which would reduce 90 per cent of the cost of branded medicines.

Announcing a proposal to form a Gujarat Medical Services Corporation, Mr. Modhwadia said about 250 varieties of life-saving drugs would be made totally free while the government would pay the premium for health insurance schemes up to Rs. 30,000 for middle class families and make arrangements for private-public partnership for premium for higher health insurance policies.

Promising that the vacancies of all the posts of doctors and para-medical staff in government civil hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres would be filled on a priority basis, Mr. Modhwadia referred to the recent blood transfusion scam in the Junagadh civil hospital where around two dozen young thallasemia patients were allegedly injected HIV-infected blood leading to a CBI investigation, and said modern equipment would be installed in all hospitals for blood tests to prevent such health hazards.

Accusing the Narenda Modi government in the State of paying scant attention to people’s health-related issues while spending crores of rupees from the State exchequer to extend benefits to a few industrial houses, Mr. Modhwadia quoted statistics from the economic survey 2010-11 by the Office of the Registrar General of India under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to claim that Gujarat stood last among 31 States and Union Territories in respect of per capita expenditure for health at Rs. 270 per person.

Among other statistics, he pointed out that Gujarat ranked eighth in respect of life expectancy, maternal mortality rate as well as bridging the sex ratio gap as per the 2001 and 2011 census, which went up from 883 females per 1,000 male children to 886 females per 1,000 male children in the last census, and ranked seventh in respect of infant mortality rate.

The State health minister Jaynarayan Vyas, however, demolished the Congress statistics claiming them to be “misleading, far from truth and concocted only for political advantage.”

The Congress, in its earlier editions of “Vision for the People”, had announced low-cost houses for poor urbanites and free house sites for landless labourers and small farmers which became an instant hit, forcing the Modi administration to make similar counter-promises and revive the near-dormant State-owned Gujarat Housing Board to float new housing schemes before the elections.