Over 8,60,000 ASHAs appointed to act as bridge between the communities and the health facilities in villages – Azad
Since the launch of National Rural Health Mission 7 years ago, substantial progress has been made in health sector. Over 8,60,000 ASHAs have been appointed to act as bridge between the communities and the health facilities in the villages. New Health Infrastructure has been created. A total of 70,000 beds have been increased in government health institutions for provision of essential and emergency services.
Addressing the inaugural function of Ashwini Rural Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre (ARMCH) at Solapur in Maharashtra, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad said that his Ministry has taken several steps to improve health scenario in the country. To increase the human resources, nearly 1.6 lakh human resources such as Specialists, Doctors, Nurses, ANMs and Para-medics have been added. A Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) has been put in place to reach out to every pregnant woman and child for proper vaccination. The government has launched a scheme wherein male and female contraceptives are being delivered at the doorstep in the high focus districts of the country by ASHAs at a nominal cost. Another scheme has been initiated for the promotion of menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls of rural areas in the age group of 10-19 years covering 1.5 crore girls in 152 districts of 20 states. There has been significant fall in MMR, IMR and TFR as well as reduction in new HIV cases by as much as 57% in the country.
Shri Azad said since he took over the Health Ministry more than three years ago, his Ministry has been focusing on reforming policies related to medical and paramedical education with a view to overcome the acute shortage of human resources in health. A series of reforms in medical education were undertaken to increase the human resources at various levels. These path-breaking decisions have brought in positive results, never seen before in the past six decades. The availability of MBBS seats has gone up by nearly 40% and the number of PG seats by about 80%. This year, the increase in MBBS seats in the country will be 50% and PG seats increase will touch almost 100%. To overcome the shortage of Nurses and ANMs, his Ministry has already sanctioned 269 nursing schools in the last two years, mostly in remote, inaccessible and under-served districts. With an estimated outlay of Rs. 2,030 crores, these institutions will give an additional 20,000 nurses annually. To scale up the availability of para-medics through centres of excellence in para-medical education, a National Institute of Paramedical Sciences (NIPS) at Delhi and 8 Regional Institutes have been sanctioned. A total of 10,760 paramedic professionals are expected to be trained annually when these institutes of excellence are fully functional.
He said the 12th Plan has just been finalized by the National Development Council. It is a matter of great satisfaction that “Health” has been given a central position in the 12th Plan and the outlay for health has gone up substantially. Several new initiatives have been envisaged during 12th Plan period. These are:- (1) Strengthening of Sub-Centres, which are the first port of call for the community for healthcare services in the remotest and inaccessible areas by providing additional manpower; (2) The District Hospitals would be equipped to become strong hubs for advanced secondary and multi-speciality care; (3) To cope with the increasing load at government facilities, 20,000 additional beds for mothers and children have been approved for District Hospitals and Community Health Centres; (4) It is proposed to introduce universal screening for all children for disease, disability and deficiency which would be followed up by free treatment where required; (5) Medicines account for 70% of out of pocket expenditure. It is proposed to ensure availability of free generic medicines to everyone coming to a government health facility; (6) Another area would be the launch of an urban health initiative to address health concerns of urban poor specially those living in the urban slums.
Shri Azad hoped that Ashwini Rural Medical College and Hospital would render critical medical services to the people in surrounding rural areas. These would help in bridging the gap in accessibility and affordability of health-care services between the rural poor and the urban elite. This institute would also distinguish itself in the service of the people of Solapur and neighbouring areas and would add to the availability of quality human resources to meet the health needs of the state, region and country. – pib