Mumbai: Stating that India has made "notable progress" in the field of medical sciences and healthcare, Vice-President Hamid Ansari today said that "much more needs to be done before we can claim to provide high quality, affordable healthcare to all our people".
"Since Independence, we have made notable progress in medical sciences and healthcare. Our healthcare system today is a mix of public and private sector providers of health services. Networks of healthcare facilities at the primary, secondary and tertiary level, run mainly by state governments, provide free or very low-cost medical services," Ansari said.
He was addressing the 48th annual conference of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India (APSICON) here today.
"There is also an extensive private health care sector, covering the entire spectrum from individual doctors and their clinics, to general hospitals and super specialty hospitals," he added.
Due to efforts by the government and the private sector, almost all the indicators of health in the country have shown a positive trend. Life expectancy has increased, infant and maternal mortality have gone down. Due to large scale immunisation/vaccination programmes, many communicable diseases have been controlled, if not totally eradicated, Ansari noted.
High-quality preventive and curative care is now available in the country for treating complicated diseases and performing complex procedures. India is also emerging as an important destination for what is termed `medical tourism`, he said.
"However, the healthcare system still suffers from major weaknesses," he said. "We cannot afford to sit on our laurels. Much more needs to be done before we can claim to provide high quality, affordable healthcare to all our people.
"Availability of healthcare services is quantitatively inadequate both in terms of physical infrastructure and trained manpower, including doctors, nurses, auxiliary nurses and midwifes.
"The overall shortage is exacerbated by a wide geographical variation in availability across the country. Rural areas are especially poorly served," Ansari said.