Efforts on to increase number of health professionals - PM...

Stating that India needs more health professionals, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said that a scheme has been approved which would help add nearly 5,000 post-graduate seats.

"India needs many more health professionals, of different categories, to fill the huge shortfall in the health workforce," the prime minister said, addressing the 38th convocation of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in the national capital.

"A new scheme has been approved for strengthening and upgrading state government medical colleges to enable them to increase their intake at the post-graduate level. The scheme has the potential of adding about 5,000 post-graduate seats, starting with the 2012 academic session," he said.

Saying that the government has taken several steps to augment the availability of healthcare professionals, the prime minister highlighted that work on setting up six new AIIMS-like institutions and strengthening several medical colleges is well under way.

He also said that norms for starting medical colleges have been rationalized to encourage establishment of medical colleges in un-served and under-served areas.

"A scheme has been launched for setting up 269 nursing colleges in districts that do not have any nursing college and which have poor health indicators. To boost the availability of quality paramedical manpower, a scheme has been approved for establishing a National Institute of Paramedical Sciences and for creation of nine regional institutes, besides supporting state government medical colleges conducting paramedical courses," he added.
The prime minister said that the focus needed to be on rural areas which still lacked qualified healthcare professionals.

"Whether it is child mortality, immunization coverage, maternal mortality or awareness of HIV-AIDS, rural populations lag far behind their urban counterparts. This is partly due to inadequate availability of health services in rural areas but it is also a reflection of the lower levels of education and income which are important social determinants of our nation's health," he said.

He added that the National Rural Health Mission, the Right to Education, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the measures being taken to provide food security are, therefore, complementary initiatives intended to protect and promote the health of the rural populace.

Efforts are afoot to increase the allocation to healthcare and the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) envisages an increase in public expenditure on health to at least 2 percent of GDP, he said. IANS