Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on a two-day visit to Gujarat, criticised the previous Congress-led UPA government on its failure to bring about new healthcare policies during its 10-year rule. The prime minister who was addressing the people of his hometown Vadnagar on Sunday, alleged that the previous government also did not work to increase the number of seats in medical colleges.
“The last health policy was announced during Atalji’s (former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) regime around 15 years back. After that, such a government assumed power which used to hate development. It did not have any empathy for the people,” PM Modi said. “As a result, a new health policy was introduced after almost 15 years by our government,” he said.
PM Modi upped the ante on the previous UPA coalition government for not addressing the need to increase the number of seats in medical colleges saying, “Due to the rules formulated by the past governments, very few students were able to secure admission in the medical colleges. Thus, we have taken up the task of opening one medical college for (every) three to four Lok Sabha constituencies across the country.”
“Since we also need good professors for such colleges, we have also increased 6,000 seats in PG medical courses in the last one year. Though some people criticised the move, we remained firm because we understand that we will need good professors for producing good doctors,” he said.
He also highlighted the efforts made by the BJP-led NDA government in the healthcare sector leading to reduction in prices of stents and medicines. “The prices of stents were around Rs 1.5 lakh to almost Rs 2 lakh (each). Someone would get a heart attack by just hearing such a high price. We then called the manufacturers and asked them not to rob the poor by charging such high price. Today, the stents are available at just 40 per cent of the original price,” he said.
“Similarly, we were also concerned about the prices of medicines. That is why we have started a mission to sell generic medicines at subsidised rates,” Modi said.
The prime minister further went on to launch an intensive immunisation drive, ‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’ or IMI, from his hometown Vadnagar. This seven-day immunisation drive is to be conducted each month from now till January 2018 in 173 districts and 17 cities.
PM Modi, while launching the programme said, “Let no child suffer from any vaccine-preventable disease.”
During his two-day Gujarat visit, the prime minister also inaugurated the GMERS Medical College, Vadnagar, and launched the Innovative Mobile Phone Technology for Community Health Operation (ImTeCHO) for improving coverage of community-based maternal, neonatal and infant health services. The GMERS Medical College treats nearly 400-500 outdoor patients and 80-100 indoor patients everyday.
Prime Minister Modi, who was visiting his birthplace Vadnagar, in Mehsana district, for the first time since becoming the prime minister, expressed his happiness at the warm welcome he received there. He held a roadshow in Vadnagar where people queued up along the route to welcome him. “I am touched by the immense love showered by the people of Vadnagar today. It gave me new energy to serve the nation with more zeal,” Modi said in his address to a public gathering after the roadshow.
On his second day of visit to poll-bound Gujarat, Modi visited his school in Vadnagar and also went to the Hatkeshwar Mahadev temple where he offered prayers alongwith Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
He expressed his gratitude towards God saying that he has been able to serve the nation because of the blessings of Lord Shiva since 2001 despite people “spewing venom” at him over these years. PM Modi was apparently referring to the criticism he faced during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister after the riots of 2002 in the state.
“The blessings of Bhole Baba (Lord Shiva) gave me the strength to drink and digest poison. Due to this ability, I was able to counter all those who spewed venom against me since 2001. This ability gave me the strength to serve the motherland with dedication over these many years,” he said.
“I started my journey from Vadnagar and now I have reached Kashi (Varanasi). Just like Vadnagar, Kashi is also the town of Bhole Baba (Lord Shiva). Bhole Baba’s blessings gave me immense strength, and this strength is the biggest gift I have received from this land,” he said.