Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said the biggest challenge for the Centre was to make the health infrastructure and heathcare facilities available in far-flung areas of the country.
Singh, who was the chief guest at a function held at the Government Medical College and hospital in Chandigarh, stressed the need to strengthen the primary healthcare in the country.
The Union minister said there is lack of better health facilities in the country, especially in rural areas. “To provide better health facilities to citizens is a big responsibility of the government. The doctor-patient ratio in our country is 0.6 per 1,000, which is 1.2 per 1,000 in developed countries. The nurse-patient ratio is 0.8 per 1,000 in our country, while it is 2.6 per 1,000 in other countries. The bed availability ratio is also low in the country at 1.5 beds per 1,000 people, while it is 4 beds per 1,000 in other countries. By seeing these figures, you can say that the existing health infrastructure and human resource is not sufficient to cater to the population of the country.”
Citing a recent incident, Singh said it hurts to see that ambulances are not available for the poor sections of the society. “A few days ago, we saw a poor man’s son was ill and owing to non-availability of ambulance, he carried his son on his shoulder to the hospital. His son died on the way to the hospital. The situation is miserable and there is a need to improve it,” Singh said.
The minister said there is a need to revisit and revise the health strategies. “There is a need to replace the existing fragmented health system with an integrated system, if we aim to provide better health facilities to the citizens,” Singh said.
Commenting on a survey, the home minister said lack of better primary healthcare facilities is leading to over crowding of bigger hospitals. “According to a survey, 95 per cent of the patients who were treated in bigger hospital could have been treated at primary hospitals, had there been proper infrastructure and sufficient doctors,” he said, adding that the central government was committed to provide affordable healthcare facilities to the citizens.
Singh also said doctors with big hearts are more honest and they treat their patients with a smile on their faces. “Doctors with small hearts can never be a good doctor, while those with big hearts perform their duties with utter sincerity and also go out of their way to make the patients feel happy. The circumference of heart is directly related to the magnitude of happiness,” he said.
He called for the need to increase the investment in healthcare. “At present, the central government is spending approx 1.16 percent of our GDP, which is less in comparison to BRICS countries,” he said.
The Union Home Minister also said out of pocket expenditure in the country is 60 per cent, which was high to put burden on poor people. “To improve the health facilities, the Centre needs support of the state government. To provide the healthcare affordable for poor sections, medical research institutes can play a role.”