NITI Aayog member Vinod Paul on Saturday suggested that the health sector shift priorities to non-communicable diseases, palliative care and mental health, “not simply areas which we have delivered in a significant way.”
Paul was speaking at the 6th National Summit of Health in Gandhinagar on Saturday.
Hailing the primary healthcare set-up in the country, Paul said, “We are just beginning the second phase of transformation of our primary healthcare…We delivered well in maternal and child healthcare and communicable diseases.We have started screening of diabetes…screening is just the beginning… (we need innovation on) how can we have insulin delivery? We have to ultimately achieve reduction in non-communicable diseases-related premature mortality.”
Paul also said that innovation was required in the “care of the elderly” and “mental health”.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who holds the health portfolio in the state, batted for unity in spending on healthcare irrespective of the political regime. “Our country has limited resources so we have to utilise it very efficiently…and tactfully focus on specific areas with due consideration” He also suggested emulating the best practices of other states. “In a country this wide, every state has its own problem areas…Success models of other states can be replicated,” he said.
Vinod Paul too spoke of utilisation of funds. Stressing how “money unspent is an opportunity lost,” he suggested ways to optimise value for money. “Efficient use of budget (is one way)…. How can we achieve that through engineering…system-level transformation and innovation… (it is) an interesting area to look at,” he said
Paul also touched upon managerial efficiency. “How can we improve the working of our district and sub-district hospitals and take them to the level of managerial efficiency and performance with the very best private (hospitals)…. Night surgeries, infection control, patient safety (are some areas of improvement)…,” he said.
Another area ripe for innovation was urban healthcare. “It (a city) is a finite geographical area. Communication and access is easier and yet I think we have a long way forward in terms of optimum urban healthcare.”
Deputy Chief Minister Patel in his address said innovation, technology and infrastructure is futile until trained staff is in place.
The Statue of Unity was frequently mentioned at the event. Deputy CM said a trip has been planned for delegates to the Statue of Unity after the three-day conference, while Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in his opening remarks said, “Gujarat has given the world our ‘rashtrapita’ Mahatma Gandhi and iron man Sardar Patel. It was my wish that this conference be held at the Statue of Unity but we were not fortunate enough..But we will try (to do so) in the times ahead…”
The 6th National Summit, on Good and Replicable Practice and Innovations in Public Healthcare System in India’, was held under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and was inaugurated by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
A coffee table book on best practices and healthcare innovations was launched, an official release on guidelines on partnership for engagement of NGOs and private practitioners, with guidelines on tuberculosis now included, was issued and an operational guideline for SUMAN (Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan) — an initiative for zero preventable maternal and new-born deaths — was also released. In addition, version 2.0 of the ImTeCHO application, MyTecho, in which citizens can keep track of their health data, was also launched.