Rural health scheme now in cities

Institutes akin to AIIMS will be opened in states, says PM

The Centre will soon extend its flagship rural health scheme to the urban areas, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh revealed on Saturday, even as he expressed concern over the sinking standard of health services and medical education in the country.

“While the government has decided to continue the National Rural Health Mission for the next five years, its new urban counterpart, the National Urban Health Mission (NRHM) , will focus on health challenges in India’s towns and cities,” the prime minister said at the convocation of Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) in Pondicherry.

He also inaugurated a new hospital for women and children at JIPMER.
Describing the Indian hea­lthcare system as “unique” because of the presence of both pu­blic and private sectors, Singh said: “Eventually, I do hope we will be able to launch a unified National Health Mission.” “The NRHM has shown that health indicators can be improved with concerted focus on public health systems at primary and secondary levels. Much more needs to be done and there is a large unfinished agenda of providing affordable healthcare for all people.”

Urging the Centre and the states to “put their heads together” for achieving universal health coverage, the prime minister pointed out that the acute shortage of doctors, nurses and health workers are impediments to the goal.

Speaking on the standard of medical education in the country, Singh said: “We cannot allow this situation to continue. A credible regulatory and institutional mechanism to develop standards in our medical education and a serious re-look at the medical education curriculum are needed.”

Medical education should be co­nfigured to produce a “technically competent, socially sens­itive, ethically correct and ready to serve health profess­i­o­nals who can respond to the di­verse demands of India’s gr­o­­wing health needs,” he asserted.

The prime minister announced that the “AIIMS-like in­stitutions at Bhopal, Bh­uba­neswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh will start functioning from the academic year 2012-13 and their respective hospitals by 2013-14.”

Before winding off his two-d­ay trip to Pondicherry, Singh visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, accompanied by an en­tourage comprising Po­nd­icherry Lt Governor Iqbal Si­ngh, MoS in the PMO V Na­rayanasamy and Pondicherry Chief Minister N Rangasamy.

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