Conference seeks vision on making healthcare affordable and accessible to all sections

A two-day national conference on ‘Vision for a Health Care Movement' commenced at the Asian Centre for Cross Cultural Studies (ACCS) at Panaiyur Kuppam, off East Coast Road, on Wednesday.

The seminar is being organised by the ACCS in association with Voluntary Health Services. The seminar's objective is to bring together, physicians, voluntary organisations, representatives from the corporate sector and pharmaceutical industry, among others, to create a vision on making quality health care affordable and accessible to all sections of the society.

In his keynote address, E.S. Krishnamoorthy, honorary secretary, Voluntary Health Services, said the health care sector had to operate like an industry but its end had to be quality health delivery.

He said the efforts of the government, with support from non-governmental organisations, simply could not meet the expectations of people to meet their health care needs.

“We need serious private investments if the goal of quality health care delivery had to be achieved,” Dr. Krishnamoorthy said.

While pointing out that States like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh had launched novel schemes to bring all sections of people under the umbrella of medical insurance, a lot more needed to be done in the sphere of public health.

Against a world-wide average of 2.9 beds per 1,000 population, India's record was dismal with just 0.9 beds per 1,000 people. He said there was a conflict of interest between government and private hospitals, Elaborating, he said government hospitals were accessible to all, but not all services could be availed there. In private hospitals, on the other hand, people could be treated for all ailments, but at a huge cost.

“For instance, a bypass surgery might cost Rs.2.5 lakh, but more than Rs.1 lakh would be the profit margin for the doctor or the hospital,” he remarked. India also had a huge number of unregistered practitioners. One-third of all medical practitioners in the country were unregistered, who were accountable to none, Dr. Krishnamoorthy added.

Topics that would be discussed during the two-day seminar include primary health care, prevention of communicable diseases, making drugs affordable, management and evaluation of community health programmes among others.

N. Manohar, Dean, (P.G.), Department of Law, Dr. Ambedkar Law University, and Felix Wilfred, founder director, ACCS, also spoke.

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