NET Web Desk
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on September 25, 2021, called for addressing the shortage of trained human resources in the health sector on a war footing.
Noting the low doctor to population ratio at 1:1,511 in India against the WHO norm of 1:1,000, he stressed the need for creating more medical colleges in line with the government’s intention of setting up one medical college and hospital in every district of the country.
Referring to the paucity of paramedical staff in the country, Naidu called for improving the nurse to population ratio (1:670 in India, compared to the WHO norm of 1:300) in a mission mode.
On the shortage of trained manpower in rural areas, he suggested creating better incentives and infrastructure to attract health care workers to serve in the villages.
Speaking at the convocation of the University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, the Vice President noted the improvement in different health indicators since Independence.
At the same time, there were many challenges that require a coordinated and concerted approach by both the government and the private sector, he added.
Naidu stressed that the first step to achieving the goal of ‘Health for All’ is to increase public spending on health.
He referred to the 15th Finance Commission recommendations, which said that states should increase spending on health to more than 8% of their respective budgets by 2022 and the public health expenditure of the Centre and States together should be increased in a progressive manner to reach 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2025.
The Vice President also called for setting up more state-of-the-art hospitals in rural areas, with proactive participation from the private sector. He observed that medical advice or consultation should be accessible and affordable for the common people.
Lauding the ‘critical role’ of paramedical personnel in healthcare, the Vice President said the importance of the service they render came to the fore during the pandemic as they worked tirelessly over the past year. He observed that Indian nurses and paramedical staff have earned a great reputation and demand globally over the years with their skills, dedication and caring nature.
“The need of the hour is to leverage the innate skill among our youth to train more allied health workers and assign a larger role for them in our public health”, he added.
Referring to the recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission for allocating more than Rs.13,000 crore to train allied health workers, he said it is expected to create an additional 15 lakh workforce.
Speaking on innovation in health care, Shri Naidu observed that e-Health has come up in a big way in recent years and holds promise to mitigate the problem of paucity of doctors in rural areas.
“With increasing internet and smartphone penetration in rural areas, e-health is the way forward for the optimum use of our human resources in healthcare”, he said.
eHealth can also empower women and bring about much-needed awareness on maternal health and other issues, Naidu added.
Noting various e-health initiatives by the Health Ministry, the Vice President stressed the need to further popularize and scale them.
“While India is going through a digital revolution, we must capitalize on it and bring about a revolution in healthcare,” Naidu stressed.
Underlining the benefits of ‘digitized health records, he said the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi is expected to launch the Pradhan Mantri Digital Health Mission in a few days.
It will eliminate paperwork, bring about a seamless experience in hospitals and help in monitoring diseases, he added.
Expressing his concern over the high out-of-pocket expenditure for health, the Vice President said such health expenses adversely affect low-income households that face the risk of being pushed into poverty.
He said the government’s flagship scheme, ‘Ayushman Bharat’ has brought ‘health assurance’ to many poor families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization and has covered more than 2 crore hospitalizations so far.
The Vice President also applauded the selfless service offered by doctors, healthcare personnel and other frontline workers during the pandemic.
He called for vaccination of all eligible people at the earliest and wanted civic groups to join hands with the local governments in encouraging people to get vaccinated.
“People must follow COVID protocols with utmost seriousness. We cannot be complacent and invite a third wave”, he added.
Referring to the practice of wearing robes by the faculty and others during Convocation ceremonies, Naidu wanted it to be discontinued and suggested the wearing of simple, Indian attire on such occasions.
In this context, he also called for Indianizing the education system.
Naidu commended the University College of Medical Sciences and the associated Guru Teg Bahadur hospital for the great service offered by the two institutions during the management of COVID-19.