Pranab Mukherjee says the reach and quality of public sector health service should be improved

President Pranab Mukherjee has said that a new National Health Mission, combining the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and a new urban mission, will be launched with an outlay of over Rs.21,000 crore for 2013-14. The NRHM was launched in 2005 to ensure availability, quality, and affordability of health care.

The President was inaugurating the golden jubilee programmes of the Government TD Medical College, Alappuzha, on Saturday. He lamented the limited reach of the country’s public sector health service, which forced many people to depend on private sector. Expensive treatment pushed many into poverty. “The quality of health care delivery by some health service providers leaves much to be desired,” he said.

The President sought a correction in the situation by expanding quality, affordable public sector health care facilities.

“Our public expenditure on health care was 1.04 per cent of GDP during the Eleventh Five Year Plan. This should rise to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by the end of Twelfth Plan period,” he said.

He also stressed the need for increasing the number of competent health care professionals. Pointing out that the urgent need was to establish more institutes for imparting medical education, the President said that existing medical and nursing colleges should increase their intake and improve the standard of education.

“I am confident that our public sector medical colleges will meet the twin challenges of greater quantity and better quality,” he said.

None should be denied specialty treatment due to high costs, he said, calling for a better health insurance mechanism.

An efficient health information system should be built for universal registration of births and deaths, nutritional surveillance, and disease surveillance. He said that infant mortality rate must be reduced from 44 per 1,000 live births to 25 by the end of Twelfth Plan period and maternal mortality rate from 212 per one lakh live births to 100 by the same period.

“A sustainable model of health care with the participation of all stakeholders is the need of the hour,” he said.

Kerala Governor H.R. Bhardwaj presided. Union Minister of State for Labour Kodikkunnil Suresh demanded that a hospital modelled on All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) be set up in Alappuzha to treat water-borne diseases of Kuttanad people.