New Delhi: Recognising the need to address complex challenges in the health sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said allocation for it has been enhanced by about three times in the 12th Plan Period with enhanced thrust on nutrition and sanitation.
He also noted that free generic drugs will be made available through all public hospitals in the country to help in "reducing out of pocket expenditure of the poor" on health.
"The allocation for health sector has been enhanced some three times in the 12th Five Year Plan as compared with the 11th Plan allocation," he said speaking at the foundation stone laying function of the redevelopment project of Lady Hardinge Medical College here.
Besides, as factors such as nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation, housing and education, particularly education of girl child, are increasingly being underlined as the social determinants of health, he said the government is laying great emphasis on their importance by providing adequate thrust to these sectors in the Plan Period.
The Prime Minister also said a major urban health initiative will be launched during the Plan Period to focus on specific health issues of urban poor and called for better synergy and coordination between different ministries for best results.
Singh underlined the need for improving the volume and the quality of faculty in medical institutions in the country, observing that availability of trained human resources in the health sector remains a challenge.
"We need to set up more nursing and medical colleges to increase both undergraduate and postgraduate seats in the 12th Plan. We also need to pay much greater attention to improving the volume and the quality of faculty in medical institutions in our country," he said.
Pointing to the latest sample registration system finding that India`s infant mortality rate has declined by a further three points during the last one year, the Prime Minister felt India still has a long way to go on this front as it still lags behind other developing countries.
"This is a good news but we still have much to achieve on this front where we lag behind a number of other developing countries. I hope that efforts to bring down the infant mortality rate will continue with renewed energy and focus," he said.
He said if the same energy and commitment that was brought to the effort to eradicate polio from India could also be brought to reducing infant mortality rate further, the country`s "demographic indicators would certainly appear much better".
To give a boost to para-medical education and scale up the availability of para-medics, he said the Government is setting up a national institute of paramedical sciences at Delhi and eight regional institutes of paramedical sciences at Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar, Patna and Aurangabad.
Lauding the efforts of Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Singh said under his guidance, MBBS seats in medical colleges across the country have increased by over 30 per cent and the post graduate seats have gone up by nearly 51 per cent.
He said as many as 61 new medical colleges have been added, raising the total number of such institutions in our country to 362.
In addition, 269 new nursing schools have been sanctioned, mostly in remote, inaccessible and under-served districts.
"This will go a long way in overcoming the shortage of nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives," he said.