Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday 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, the Vice President 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.
Referring to the 15th Finance Commission recommendations that said that states should increase spending on health to more than 8% of their 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 percent of GDP by 2025, he stressed that the first step to achieving the goal of ‘Health for All’ is to increase public spending on health.
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.
“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. e-Health can also empower women and bring about much needed awareness on maternal health and other issues”, he said.
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”, said Naidu.
He also expressed concern over the high out-of-pocket expenditure on health and said that 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.
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.