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‘Mental illness emerging as a public health challenge’

Describing mental illness as a major concern,Union health secretary Keshav Desiraju on Friday said that 3 per cent of the population was estimated to be suffering from the disease

Written by Express News Service | Pune |
September 7, 2013 4:17:51 am

Describing mental illness as a major concern,Union health secretary Keshav Desiraju on Friday said that 3 per cent of the population was estimated to be suffering from the disease,affecting their ability to exist productively within communities.

Delivering a keynote address at the national conference on Public Health Challenges for the Current Millennium,organised by the Department of Community Medicine at Armed Forces Medical Conference (AFMC),he said the challenge is also in finding skilled health staff,including nurses and paramedical personnel,to man infrastructure. He lamented that 70 per cent of the primary health consultations happen at tertiary care centres whereas the primary level care should be available through Primary and Community Health Centres.

Desiraju highlighted the inequities in health in different states by giving examples of the Maternal Mortality ratio in the country. He said states like Kerala,Tamilnadu and Maharashtra have achieved a ratio of around 100,while for UP,Rajasthan and MP it is 250.

Speaking about communicable diseases,he said TB continues to be a challenge with more than 66,000 Multi Drug Resistance (MDR) TB cases in the country.

Touching upon the medical education,he said more than half of the medical colleges in the country are private and graduates from these sectors rarely serve in the community that requires primary healthcare. He voiced his concerns with the inefficiencies of the regulatory machinery of the various councils involved in medical education and conceded the nation had yet not been able to harness the huge manpower potential of the AYUSH system.

Regarding Universal Health care,he said that financing it remains a major challenge. He also emphasised the importance of regulating Drugs and Pharma Industry for quality,even if the country happen to be one of the largest exporters of generic drugs.

The session also included a lecture on the importance,scope and practice of public health in the Armed Forces by Air Vice Marshal Rajvir Bhalwar,an expert in public health and presently commanding a tertiary care hospital.

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