Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that though the country had made substantial progress in health determinants over the past decades and the critical indicators of health had shown consistent improvement, the progress was “much less than what we would have liked to achieve and are capable of achieving.” The progress also did not compare well with what a number of countries, particularly those in southeast Asia, had achieved. Dr. Singh was addressing the 30th convocation of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here.

High priority

The Centre had accorded top priority to the health sector in the last five years and the funds allotment saw a quantum jump in the 11th Five Year Plan. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was launched to strengthen and improve the public health system in rural areas with emphasis on decentralised planning and implementation accompanied by community-based monitoring. However, said a review of the NRHM pointed to acute shortage of human resource — specialists, doctors, nurses and paramedics. “This is one of the biggest impediments to strengthening the public health delivery system and scaling up access to healthcare.” To address this deficiency, more medical colleges and nursing schools were being opened, particularly in the less developed States. The student-teacher ratio was enhanced in specialties and superspecialities from 1:1 to 2:1. This was expected to increase the number of postgraduate specialists. A new scheme to strengthen and upgrade the medical colleges of the State governments was also being launched to increase the number of postgraduate medical seats. The mission of the PGIMER would remain incomplete unless the interest of the common man was addressed effectively and purposefully. “Institutions like yours must link more effectively with the community and address its needs. Medical and paramedical personnel should imbibe a sense of commitment to welfare and the well-being of the common man. Through your research you must attempt to discover the most cost-effective strategies of prevention and treatment of diseases. Only when the lives of the common people, be they in Tripura or the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, are touched by your research and the most underprivileged child in your ward goes back home satisfied with your care, will your mission be truly accomplished,” the Prime Minister said. While congratulating all those who were awarded diplomas, degrees and medals, Dr. Singh asked them to live up to the motto of “Aart Seva Sarva Bhadr a Shodhashch,” which means “service to the poorest and research for the good of all” in their professional careers. He exhorted them to always keep the well-being of the common man in mind and contribute to it. He appreciated that over the last few years the PGIMER had grown stronger and better, adding to its facilities and capabilities each year. While complimenting PGIMER Director K.K. Talwar for his efforts and leadership in the last five years, Dr. Singh urged the institute not to be complacent. Union Health Minister and PGIMER president Ghulam Nabi Azad said 361 students received their postgraduate degrees in various specialties and superspecialities.

NRHM review highlights dearth of human resource Focus should be on well-being of common man

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