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President laments inadequate provision of health services

Special Correspondent
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President Pranab Mukherjee, flanked by Uttar Pradesh Governor and King George’s Medical University (KGMU) Chancellor B. L. Joshi (left) and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (right), lightning the traditional lamp at the eighth KGMU Convocation in Lucknow on Friday.— Photo: Subir Roy
President Pranab Mukherjee, flanked by Uttar Pradesh Governor and King George’s Medical University (KGMU) Chancellor B. L. Joshi (left) and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (right), lightning the traditional lamp at the eighth KGMU Convocation in Lucknow on Friday.— Photo: Subir Roy

Emphasising the need to extend the frontiers of science and technology to improve the health of the people, especially the poor, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday lamented lack of human resources and physical infrastructure as the reasons behind inadequate provision of health services, particularly in the rural areas of the country.

Mr. Mukherjee pointed out that the density of doctors in India was only 0.6 per 1,000 people, while that of nurses and midwives was 1.30 per 1,000, clearly underlining the shortage of health professionals in the country.

“On account of the skewed distribution of cadres of health workers, the vulnerable population in the rural, tribal and hilly areas are under-served,” he said.

Addressing the eight Convocation ceremony of King George’s Medical University (KGMU) here, the President said provision of universal health care posed a challenge, which is why it was one of the topmost priorities of the Government.

He said as per the 11{+t}{+h}Five Year Plan estimates there was a disproportionately high reliance on a household’s out-of-pocket expenditure on health, though the total expenditure of health in India was around five per cent of the GDP. “This reflects a critical imbalance in the health care system, which stems from basic deficiencies in the public sector’s capacity to deliver basic health care.”

Emphasising on the sizeable expansion in teaching institutions for doctors, nurses and paramedics, the President said: “Positive traditional health care practices and local remedies need to be encouraged.”

He mentioned the Central financial assistance being provided to States for upgrading the government medical colleges, and said that NGOs and private players should step up their contribution towards health care. In a specific reference to KGMU, which has won international acclaim in health care, teaching and research, the President said the excellence of this institution should not be confined to Lucknow but must be extended to millions in the State who did not have access to quality health care.

In his address to the gathering, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said a satellite campus of the KGMU will be set up, which will include a centre for advanced research.

Mr. Yadav said medical colleges in Jhansi, Saifai, Allahabad and Gorakhpur will be upgraded and land will be provided for opening of an All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rae Bareli. He also said a decision had been taken by his government to establish a cancer institute in Lucknow. Gold medals for 2012 were awarded to 15 doctors by the President. Prem Puri and Surendra Kumar Verma were honoured with honorary doctorates.

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