Science movement campaigner Dr. Amit Sengupta of the Delhi Science Forum has called for concerted efforts to build a strong people’s health movement to ensure equitable access to all essential medicines.

Although, India is the third largest producer of medicines in the world in terms of volume, 50 to 60 per cent of the country’s population has little or no access to medicines.

A staggering number of 649 million people in the country have no access to essential medicines, he said. He was delivering Dr. Jetty Sesha Reddy State-level memorial lecture here on Sunday. Health is not a technical issue but a political issue which demands solidarity at all levels. Irrational prescription of medicines and their inappropriate use is taking a toll not only on the individual patient but on the health system as a whole. This undesirable phenomenon is pushing crores of people below the poverty line, he deplored. Manufacturing activity is slowing down in the pharmaceutical sector as most of the companies have become mere traders.

Concrete steps like revival of public sector, rational prescribing of medicines and above all support to small and medium units will help safeguard the sector, he suggested. Former Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary K. Sujatha Rao said the public health system is facing a major challenge due to re-emergence of infectious diseases like tuberculosis. The liberal policy in according permission for setting up of private hospitals without a strict regulatory framework is most detrimental, she said pointing out that privatization of medical education was a major mistake committed by the policy makers.

Lack of faculty

Lack of adequate faculty was one among several deficiencies plaguing the private medical colleges in the country. “Although some private medical colleges are functioning efficiently, majority of the private medical colleges were plagued with various shortcomings. Medical education should be nationalised to ensure quality medical education,” she said. Collector I. Srinivas Sri Naresh, Sundarayya Vignana Kendram secretary Y. Siddaiah, and Jana Vignana Vedika State president K. Satyaprasad spoke.

‘Health is not a technical issue but a political one which demands solidarity at all levels’