Special Correspondent

Minister tells State governments

MADURAI: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss, on Friday, asked the State governments to increase the salaries of doctors working in government hospitals and put them on a par with Central Government scale. He also said that the retirement age of State Government doctors should be increased to 65 years.

“I have written to Chief Ministers of all States with regard to increasing the salaries of doctors in order to prevent them from going to private hospitals. The Tamil Nadu Health Minister should take up the issue with the Chief Minister,” he said.

Dr. Ramadoss was speaking after laying the foundation stone for a Rs.150-crore super specialty hospital / new buildings of Government Rajaji Hospital and Madurai Medical College.

He said that State Government doctors should also draw the same salary as of Central Government service and “the Sixth Pay Commission gave substantial package to Central Government doctors.” Referring to the campaign taken up by his party (PMK) for bringing in prohibition in the State, Dr. Ramadoss said that there was reason to justify the demand and also for the Centre’s introduction of anti-tobacco legislation. “India should have healthy youth to have a healthy future for the country. The objective of ban on smoking in public places is not to catch people and impose fine but only to create an awareness of the dangers of using tobacco products.”

Stating that alcohol was the “mother of all public health problems,” he said that the sales figures at TASMAC outlets in Tamil Nadu were worrying. “Four years back, the figure was only Rs.4,000 crore; but now it had shot up to Rs.12,000 crore. The justification that this money was spent for various welfare schemes is something I do not want to get in to…What about the health of those people taking alcohol,” he said.

Dr. Ramadoss urged the Tamil Nadu Government to give a serious thought to the demand for banning alcohol in view of the fact that the people started drinking liquor at the age of 13 years itself whereas it was 29 years earlier. On ban on smoking, he said that his Ministry had virtually launched a ‘war against smoking and junk food’ because 10 lakh Indians died every year owing to tobacco related diseases.