Bridge rural-urban divide in health care: Shekhawat

RED-LETTER DAY: The Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, handing over degree to a passing out student during the convocation ceremony at Chandigarh on Saturday. Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss is on his right.   | Photo Credit: -PHOTO: PTI

Special Correspondent

195 students conferred degrees during the 27th convocation of PGIMER

CHANDIGARH: The Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, on Saturday emphasised the urgent need to put in place an affordable and reliable public health care system which would bridge the gap between rural and urban health infrastructure.

Delivering the convocation address at the 27th Convocation of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here, he said this health care system should be for all citizens including 26 per cent of the population living below the poverty line.

Expressing concern over "glaring disparities" in health standards, he said it was unfair that while the poor and deprived had limited access to sub-standard healthcare, the affluent people enjoyed the best of facilities.

Mr. Shekhawat urged the young doctors to adopt "Antyodaya approach"-- focusing attention first on the last man in the queue. "This alone would enable us to build up a new social order of all-inclusive development with equity," he said expressing concern over the increased cost of treatment for the general public in private hospitals.

He exhorted the medical professionals to envisage an intelligent integration of all health care systems including Unani, Homoeopathy and Ayurveda combined with Yoga for making proper use of India's rich heritage of ancient system of medicines.

Mr. Shekhawat said that medical institutions like PGIMER and AIIMS could play a social role in building up the right system of professional education which should be aimed at not only preparing doctors but also ensuring that "our human resource is adequately equipped and empowered to meet the challenges in the field". It was the responsibility of medical institutions to bring forward creative, imaginative and innovative professionals as India was now emerging as a preferred medical tourism destination due to its unique international recognition of excellence in medical education and healthcare areas. For this, he advised the passing out doctors to be good human beings along with being excellent medical professionals.

He urged the PGI faculty to focus their research not only on the frontier areas of technology but also on the ground realities "where diseases like TB, Malaria and Diarrhoea widely inflict the common man particularly in the remote and underdeveloped areas". He also expressed concern that there were over five million cases of AIDs in India which now had the second largest HIV-infected population in the world.

While conferring degrees on 195 medical students, Union Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss appealed to the young doctors to stay in India instead of rushing abroad after completing their education. They should come back to serve in India after completing their advanced training in abroad. He advised them to serve in the villages and contribute in strengthening the rural health infrastructure.

Dr. Ramadoss said that medical institutions like PGIMER should introduce rural-oriented curriculum in their medical training programmes as rural areas were still deprived of medical experts. He also urged the local MP and Union Minister of State for Finance, Pawan Kumar Bansal, to help provide funds for strengthening health services in the rural areas of this region. He also complimented PGIMER for being the first National Institute of Health Engineering in the country.

Earlier, Mr. Shekhawat inaugurated the Advanced Eye Centre in the PGI campus. The PGI Director, Dr. K.K. Talwar, apprised the dignitaries of the rapid strides made by the Institute on all fronts.