Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said his government was pursuing a long-term objective of equipping the state with such medical facilities that no person from Bihar has to go out of the state for treatment. The statement comes soon after Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey said at a Patna function that AIIMS in Delhi remains crowded because of a large number of people from Bihar visiting the capital for treatment.
Choubey has stood by his statement and said he was “quoted out of context”. Bihar deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi too defended Choubey on Tuesday, saying that the Union minister had spoken about AIIMS being crowded by patients from various states, including Bihar.
Speaking at the launch of new health services on Tuesday, the Bihar CM made no reference to Choubey’s statement. “Bihar government has been boosting its health services with a long-term objective of no Bihar patient needing to go outside the state for treatment. One may go out of Bihar as a choice but the state government has launched the second-phase of health services worth Rs 866 crore with the sole objective of making Bihar self-reliant in providing health facilities”.
While the CM launched 63 health schemes, he laid foundation for 50 more schemes at the function. He said the people of Bihar are feeling the improvement in health services after the state government took various measures. “One big measure for improvement is that while only 39 patients visited a primary healthcare centre in a month in 2006, now on an average, 10,500 patients visit a primary health centre in a month. People have started reposing trust in government hospitals.” Enumerating how routine immunisation had gone up from 16 per cent in 2006 to 84 per cent now, he said, “Bihar would soon be among top five states in India in terms of routine immunisation”.
A senior JD(U) leader said Union ministers should be cautious to avoid making statements that create a Catch-22 situation for the CM. “BJP should remember that the health department has always been with BJP in NDA governments in Bihar,” said the leader, adding that even the current state health minister is BJP’s Mangal Pandey.