Health sector outlay tripled to Rs.3-lakh crore

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday that the allocation for the health sector during the 12th Plan had been increased three times over the previous Plan to address complex challenges before it.

The outlay for the sector in the 12th Plan had been fixed at Rs. 3-lakh crore, which was 1.95 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. During the last Plan period, the sector had got Rs. 89,265 crore.

Free generic drugs would be made available through public hospitals to help “reduce out-of-pocket expenditure of the poor” on health.

Speaking at the foundation stone-laying function for the redevelopment project of the Lady Hardinge Medical College here, Dr. Singh said adequate thrust was being laid on nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation, housing and education, particularly education of the girl child as they were increasingly being underlined as social determinants of health.

Appreciating that the latest sample registration system suggested that India’s infant mortality rate had declined by a further three points during the last one year, the Prime Minister felt the country still had a long way to go on this front as it continued to lag behind other developing countries.

If the same energy and commitment shown in eradicating polio could be put to reduce infant mortality rate further, the country’s “demographic indicators would certainly appear much better.”

Pat for Azad

Lauding Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Prime Minister said that under his guidance, MBBS seats had increased by over 30 per cent and the number of postgraduate seats went up by nearly 51 per cent. As many as 61 new medical colleges had been added, and additional 269 nursing schools sanctioned, mostly in remote, inaccessible and underserved districts.

“This will go a long way in overcoming the shortage of nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives,” Dr. Singh said.

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