With a view to providing access to good health care facilities to the common man, particularly railway passengers, the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare and Railways on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for developing health care infrastructure along the railway network across the country.

The MoU was signed here by Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary K. Sujatha Rao and Chairman of the Railway Board S.S. Khurana.

The two Ministries will collaborate on developing health care facilities for both allopathic and Indian systems of medicine by way of diagnostic centres, out-patient centres, in-patient medical treatment centres, super speciality hospitals, medical colleges and nursing colleges. These facilities could also be used as trauma centres for emergencies, accidents and natural disasters.

The Railways Ministry has tentatively identified 361 plots of at least 200 square metres each, 88 land areas of five acres each, and 41 land areas of 20 acres each in the vicinity of railway stations for multi-facility hospitals.

“The Ministry of Railways will add to the list of spare-able land bank on an ongoing basis as and when available, and more land can be provided depending on need and availability,” Union Railways Minister Mamata Bannerjee told journalists.

The Ministries will set up a high powered working group to chalk out a time-bound programme with a view to early identification of specific projects that could be taken up on priority basis, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said after the signing ceremony.

In the proposed centres, the primary health care facilities can be run by the State governments with the possibility of involving the private sector and non-governmental organisations in running some of them. The Railways Ministry can also run some of the facilities directly in places where they are in close proximity to Railway Hospitals.