`Ban Ki-Moon impressed with India`s public health efforts`

Ghulam Nabi Azad said Ban during his hour-long meeting with the Health Ministry officials stated that UN is now focusing on five specific goals.

Chandigarh: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who is on a four-day visit to India, has appreciated the public health efforts of the country, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Saturday.

"The UN Secretary General met me (in Delhi) on Thursday during his current visit to India and appreciated the public health efforts being put in by us," Azad said in his address at the 32nd convocation of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here.

He said Ban during his hour-long meeting with the Health Ministry officials led by Azad stated that UN is now focusing on five specific goals -- reducing malaria mortality, measles elimination, polio eradication, stoppage of mother to child HIV/AIDS transmission and tetanus eradication.

Later interacting with reporters here, Azad responding to a question said Ban`s upcoming meeting with the business leaders in the country was how to generate more funds not just for India but the entire globe to tackle the health-related issues.

He further said that Ban during his visit first choose to have discussions with him and his team before even meeting other dignitaries.

"This shows how concerned he is about health. He appreciated the steps taken by the Government of India in the health sector, which most countries have not taken", he said.

On Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal recently raising with the Prime Minister the need to have a cancer institute for his state like the one set up by the Tatas in Mumbai, Azad said, his Ministry had proposed to the Planning Commission to have 10-12 "stand alone" cancer institutes like the one in Mumbai.

The minister said cancer was among the three diseases, including diabetes and heart ailments, which were fast spreading in many parts of the world, particularly in India.

"We have started a programme in 100 districts across the country that include two districts in Malwa region of Punjab and in Bathinda where we will screen the patients for these diseases", he said.

"We want to screen patients across the country over the next six years for these three diseases, but at the moment the problem we are faced with is not of funds but lack of adequate number of doctors, technicians and other staff", he said.

"As the process may take time, we have asked the major hospitals and medical colleges around the country to upgrade infrastructure, put more doctors and other equipment for treating cancer patients and the Centre will lend all help in this", he said.