Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Saturday flagged off 45 ambulances under the first phase of the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, the national initiative of the health ministry to benefit pregnant women and newborns.
The chief minister said under this programme 125 ambulances, which can be availed free of cost by dialling 102, would be stationed at major delivery health centres, including regional and district hospitals.
"As of today the infant mortality rate in the state is 36 per 1,000 live births compared to the national average of 42," he said.
This is another milestone achieved in the health sector after the successful launch of another free ambulance service, which caters to general patients and can be availed of by dialling the phone number 108, he said.
Virbhadra Singh said that this free service would promote institutional deliveries, which in turn would go a long way in further reducing the maternal and infant mortality rate.
He said that under the National Rural Health Mission, the state was successful in procuring finances of Rs.261 crore from the central government. "We hoped that the union government would provide assistance to further strengthen the state's health sector as health and family welfare minister J.P. Nadda represents the state".
"I am thankful to the previous union government, especially then Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for sanctioning three medical colleges in a single fiscal to the state with adequate budgetary provision of Rs.190 crore for each college," he said.
"There won't be any constraints of finances for the priority sectors like health and education," he added.
Health Minister Kaul Singh said Rs.6.15 crore was being spent under the Janani Sishu Suraksha Karyakram in the state.
He added that two 100-bedded mother child hospitals, one each at the Kamla Nehru Hospital in Shimla and the Rajendra Prasad Medical College in Tanda town were also being constructed at a cost of Rs.20 crore each.