Puducherry: Calling India's expenditure on the health sector "woefully meagre", President Pranab Mukherjee Friday said the country needed a holistic healthcare system that is universally accessible, affordable and effective.
Speaking at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) here, Mukherjee said the health sector needed more funds to ensure universal health coverage.
"There are seven hospital beds per 10,000 people in India, compared to 23 in Brazil, 38 in China and 97 in Russia. Similarly, there are seven physicians per 10,000 people in India as compared to 19 in Brazil, 15 in China and 43 in Russia," the president said.
"Health services are still constrained by its reach and quality and public financing for healthcare in India is less than one percent of the world's total health expenditure. As Indians are a sixth of humanity, this is woefully meagre," he added.
"Our expenditure levels have to rise significantly to ensure universal health coverage."
The president said due to the increasing trend of lifestyle-related diseases, precautionary strategies have become important and calls for proper counselling.
"Healthy living has to be fostered from a very young age. Obesity in childhood can lead to health complications later. Balanced diet, physical activity and lifestyle management have to be promoted," he said.
In addition, special interventions are necessary for newborns as the first four weeks of life, during which 44 per cent of deaths of children below five years occur, are crucial.
Stressing that "hygiene and sanitation play an important role in preventing the spread of diseases", Mukherjee said he was hopeful that under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the country would be able to cover every household in the next five years.
The president called upon JIPMER to aim to enrich its research-based publications, go for patent filings, and develop models addressing common health problems by integrating Indian systems of medicine.