The rural health sector in India is in a very bad shape and it is high time to effectively address the healthcare needs of rural India, said Prof Ramesh Chandra Deka, Director of All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

Prof Deka was delivering the convocation address at Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre (PIMS) in Thiruvalla on Monday.

He has called upon the MBBS students as well as young medical professionals to study the problems facing the country’s rural health sector by becoming a part of it.

According to him, 70 per cent of India’s population lives in rural areas. Access to healthcare for basic and primary diseases like diarrhoea and respiratory infections was not available for a large section of the rural population, he said.

However, Kerala, with its low infant and maternal mortality rates at par with many developed countries, has done better in the field of healthcare compared to various other States.

Prof Deka says the strength of a nation is judged from the education and health of its citizens. Education and health are complementary to each other and quality of healthcare system is an important parameter of progress, he adds.

He further stressed the need to work for improving our health sector in terms of producing competent workforce, delivering affordable and quality healthcare to all, besides taking measures to prevent and control diseases with a holistic approach.

Prof Deka has called upon the medical students to gain experience in dealing with all sections of the population for providing quality and standard care with safe practice of medicine.

Prof Deka said Indian economy has considerably improved and the Government’s emphasis to improve the base and quality of education and healthcare system was clear from the massive national programmes universal Right to Education and National Rural Helath Mission.

“Our leaders are faced with the challenges to reconcile between poverty and plenty, development and corruption, tradition and modernism and most important for the urban and rural divide.” It is the responsibility of the medical professionals in the country to ensure that every Indian has access to primary healthcare, including safe conduct of delivery and care for women’s health, says he.

Prof Deka has also lauded the service rendered by the Christian healthcare institutions, including their medical colleges, to the country’s health sector.

The Metropolitan Archbishop of Thiruvalla, Thomas Mar Coorilos, presided the convocation ceremony. Fr Abrahan Mulamottil, Chairman of the Pushpagiri Group of Institutions, delivered the keynote address and Dr John Abraham, PIMS principal delivered the introductory speech.

Fr Mathew Mazhavancheril, PIMS director (Academic) and Dr Lizamma Alex, vice-principal, also spoke.

Prof Deka also presented certificates and mementos to the fresh graduates on the occasion.