President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Monday that there was a need to increase spending in the health sector as public expenditure on health in India is 1.2 per cent of the GDP which is much lower than the over 4 per cent in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom., Australia, Norway and Brazil.

Speaking after inaugurating the 1,800-bed new JSS Hospital, a super-specialty healthcare facility by the JSS Mahavidyapeeta, on the occasion of 98th birth anniversary celebrations of Shivarathri Rajendra Swami, in Mysore, the President said the public sector health service in India was still limited in its reach. Quality of healthcare delivery was also found wanting. Many people depend on the private sector for health services and often fail to shoulder the burden of expensive medical treatment and plunge into poverty. “People require the means to access speciality medical treatment and not stand denied due to high costs,” he observed.

Lifestyle diseases

Mr. Mukherjee felt there was a need for greater intervention to give the people a world-class healthcare system since there were areas that call for attention. India’s health coverage strategy had to look beyond medical cure and intervention. Preventive healthcare had to assume importance due to the increasing trend of lifestyle diseases, he suggested.

Stressing the need for encouraging disease prevention, early detection and treatment for building a “healthy India”, the President said balanced diet, physical activity, lifestyle management and environment care have to be promoted to achieve well-being of mind and body.

Observing that medical institutions like JSS Mahavidyapeeta had a pivotal role to guide the health sector, Mr. Mukherjee said they should build in the minds of the young doctors and health professionals a strong sense of patriotism and social responsibility. “The doctors have to remember that the nation has invested in their education and have to retain the sacred bond with their motherland. The medical fraternity has to respect the good faith and trust that people have bestowed upon them,” he advised.

While stating that technology in healthcare had to be harnessed to increase access to quality medical treatment, Mr. Mukherjee stated that telemedicine project, using satellite technology, had connected remote health centres with super-specialty hospitals in urban areas. This had helped expert healthcare consultation to reach the needy and under-served people, he observed.

The President felt the need for manufacturing sophisticated equipment, which are presently imported, for medical procedures indigenously. Research centres and medical colleges have to be encouraged for innovation, besides strengthening medical education for creating a large-pool of doctors in the country. Mr. Mukherjee said health was an individual’s most primary possession. The health of a country’s population defined the state of development. A healthy population held greater capacity to access opportunities for education, knowledge and employment.

The President said better infrastructure, trained manpower, effective drugs and modern equipment under the National Rural Health Mission had resulted in improved service delivery. A new National Health Mission, combining rural and urban areas, had commenced this year. Mr. Mukherjee said Karnataka was a pioneer in comprehensive public health services as the State had set up primary healthcare units even before primary health centers were conceived in the country. These efforts had enhanced the health status, increased productivity, and raised living standards of the citizens in the State.

Lauding the services of JSS Mahavidyapeetha and the Suttur Math, the President said they have established high traditions of selfless service to humanity. “I congratulate the mahavidyapeeta for opening this new hospital building aimed at providing affordable and quality healthcare.”

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