Sh Azad Calls Upon Overseas Indian Medical Professionals to Partner with Institutions in India
|Sh Azad Calls Upon Overseas Indian Medical Professionals to Partner with Institutions in India|
The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad has urged the overseas Indian medical Professionals to partner in building institutions in India, especially in areas where the shortage of professionals is most acute. Shri Azad was inaugurating the Health conference at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2012 at Jaipur today. “One of the most effective partnerships we hope to forge with you all today is in a variety of areas including medical research, academic collaboration, tele-medicine and skill building”, he said.
Shri Azad said “We see twining opportunity here between such centers and those with which you may be involved in your countries of residence. These could serve as a two way knowledge exchange”. There is great scope for ‘adopting’ blocks or districts to implement a range of promotive and preventive strategies, he added. “These could include school health programme, adolescent health and development, preventive health strategies and community level screening, particularly for the emerging non communicable diseases where the burden is likely to grow manifold. Your engagement could be much larger and deeper to create a profound and lasting impact”, he emphasized. “We would like to pursue, with your active participation, a policy of “brain gain”, he reiterated.
The Minister said that, after permitting the recognition of Post-graduate medical degrees of five English speaking countries for teaching as visiting faculty in India (Viz: UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), the Government of India is now considering to facilitate overseas citizens of India with foreign medical qualifications to both practice and teach in India. “Let me assure you that we are prepared to go an extra mile to adequately liberalize policies and set up a single window within the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to ease the process of your meaningful participation”, Sh Azad said. He also asked the overseas professionals to play a significant role in awareness creation and identification of potential markets for Indian Systems of Medicines and products.
The Minister said that it is acknowledged with pride that the Indian Diaspora of over 30 million people has acquired an enviable reputation for innovative start-ups, successful businesses, ground breaking research leading to Noble prizes and countless distinguished contributions in diverse fields such as education, energy, environment, research, literature, business and industry.
The full text of Sh Azad’s speech is as follows:
“Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Let me, at the outset, welcome you all to your homeland and say Khushamdeed.
The Pravasi Bhartiya Divas commemorates the home coming of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa and I am glad to see that you all have travelled long distances to join the family reunion. I believe that to love and to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides. The Indian Diaspora is indeed very special and has made all of us immensely proud. You have succeeded spectacularly in your chosen professions, often in face of extreme hardships. Talent without hard work is a tragedy but you have proved that you possess both outstanding talent and the tenacity to work exceptionally hard.
Standing here today, I must acknowledge with pride what the Indian Diaspora of over 30 million people has acquired an enviable reputation for innovative start-ups, successful businesses, ground breaking research leading to Noble prizes and countless distinguished contributions in diverse fields such as education, energy, environment, research, literature, business and industry. However if I were to mention only one area where the Indian Diaspora has earned a name for itself, it would certainly be medicine and related fields of healthcare. As we speak, there are 300,000 doctors of Indian origin working abroad out of which 40,000 work in the National Health System of the United Kingdom alone, forming the core of its service delivery. Indian medical professionals are an integral part of the healthcare delivery system the world over and have won laurels for their competence in various countries including the United States of America, the UK, Canada and Australia and Gulf Countries.
I therefore, have no doubt that you are in a position to make singular contribution to the health sector in India which is currently witnessing some very exciting developments. Riding on recent successes, India enters the year 2012 with great hope. The 12th Five Year Plan being launched in 2012 brings health centre stage and our commitment is to increase expenditure on health care to 2.5 % of our Gross Domestic Product from the present level of 1%. We are moving towards Universal Health Care for the Nation and ensuring that no individual fails to secure adequate medical care because of inability to pay for it.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
This goal now appears to be quite within our reach. There are three main reasons for this confidence: First – the economic growth that the country has seen under the guidance of UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and the stewardship of our Prime Minister. This growth has led to enhanced availability of resources and made expanding investments in the health sector possible. Secondly, we have embarked on a major expansion in medical and nursing education to overcome the acute shortage of human resources in Health. We are proactively encouraging both public and private investment in new medical and nursing colleges and laying emphasis on hitherto unexplored area of paramedical education. Finally – the launch of the National Rural Health Mission in 2005, which has led to revitalization of the public health system after years of stagnation, and contributed to perceptible and steady decline in maternal and child mortality, fertility and disease burden. Around 15 Billion Dollars have already been invested under the Mission.
Some of the most significant aspects of revitalization include: 594 District Hospitals, 2,721 CHCs, 5,459 PHCs, and 31,001 Health Sub-Centers have been taken up for new construction and renovation under NRHM. More than 1,00,000 Doctors, Nurses, Specialists and Para-medics and about 8.5 lakh ASHAs were added under NRHM. 518 districts in the country were given 518 Mobile Medical Units (MMUs).
Other path breaking initiatives taken by the health ministry in the last two and half years include: Safe Motherhood Scheme, which provides cash assistance to pregnant women should they choose to deliver in an institution. Under this scheme, the number of beneficiaries have gone up from 7,00,000 in 2005-06 to over 11.3 million per year. Encouraged by this, Safe Motherhood – Childhood Programme has been launched, which entitles every pregnant woman to an absolutely free and zero expense delivery in public health institutions, including free medicines, food, etc. To eliminate Polio, a Bivalent oral polio vaccine was introduced for the first time from January, 2010. After the introduction of this vaccine, new polio cases came down from 741 in 2009 to 42 in 2010 and, only one polio case during 2011. As part of the improvement of the menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls, particularly in tribal and rural areas, a new scheme for supply of sanitary napkins at the rate of only Rs.1/- per piece has been introduced. In the first phase, nearly 1.4 million girls in the age group of 10-19 in 152 districts of 20 States are being covered.
Under Immunization: Health Ministry has introduced second dose of measles across the country. Hep-B vaccine, which was earlier introduced in 10 States, has now been expanded to the entire country from this year. Pentavalent, a combination vaccine, which includes DPT + Hep-B + Hib has been introduced from December, 2011 in 2 States, covering 1.5 million children.
To facilitate establishment of more medical colleges, both by government and the private sector, requirements of land and ancillary infrastructure were drastically rationalized, student teacher ratio for PG students has been increased as a result of which 46- New Medical Colleges, 8577 MBBS seats and 8181 PG seats have been added in just two years time. Under the Blood Safety programme four Metro Blood Banks are being set up at New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai at the cost of 174 million USD and a Plasma Fractionation Centre is also being established. The initiatives mentioned by me here are only illustrative of the work being done in the health sector and, by no means, exhaustive.
However despite these successes, India continues to face significant challenges. Our emphasis therefore is on building a wide range of partnerships – to be able to reach out to all populations, particularly to those which are currently un-served or underserved and also to improve the overall quality of care.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I appreciate that many NRIs have been making valuable contribution by establishing dispensaries and hospitals in their ancestral towns and villages, by holding health camps and by donating funds, equipment and medicines etc. However I would like to point out that in the present health scenario, your engagement could be much larger and deeper to create a profound and lasting impact. We would like to pursue, with your active participation, a policy of “brain gain”. Therefore one of the most effective partnerships we hope to forge with you all today is in a variety of areas including medical research, academic collaboration, tele-medicine and skill building.
I am happy to inform that, after permitting the recognition of Post-graduate medical degrees of five English speaking countries for teaching as visiting faculty in India (Viz: UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). The Government of India is now considering to facilitate overseas citizens of India with foreign medical qualifications to both practice and teach in India. Let me assure you that we are prepared to go an extra mile to adequately liberalize policies and set up a single window within the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to ease the process of your meaningful participation.
Some other major areas where we look forward to your active contribution are: Provision of Health Care services: The government has encouraged FDI in opening of hospitals by placing such investments on the automatic route. PPP arrangements are now common in many areas and we intend to fully explore and expand the scope in the 12th 5 year plan period. Besides these areas, another important area where we could use your considerable skills and expertise would be the Computerization and inter-linking of all health facilities.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
By far our greatest challenge is the creation of skilled human resources of all cadres. We require committed and high quality trainers and teachers, newer and more innovative training technologies to increase the pace of our training, training materials and tools. I call upon you to be a partner in building such institutions all over the country especially in the areas where the shortage of such professionals is most acute. It has been proven that locally inducted and trained human resources are more likely to stay and serve in peripheral and outreach areas. We see twining opportunity here between such centers and those with which you may be involved in your countries of residence. These could serve as a two way knowledge exchange. Finally, there is great scope for ‘adopting’ blocks or districts to implement a range of promotive and preventive strategies. These could include school health programme, adolescent health and development, preventive health strategies and community level screening, particularly for the emerging non communicable diseases where the burden is likely to grow manifold.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
The problem of NCDs has now attracted the attention of the entire globe and it is predicted that India will be most severely affected and could very well become the world’s NCDs capital by 2020. In fact, to sensitize the Heads of States, Heads of Governments and the Health Ministers’ on the challenges posed by the NCDs to public health, a special session of the UN General Assembly was held in September last year. There is immense work to be done in this area and you will be pleased to know that India is the first country in the World to have not only conceived but launched. “The National Programme for Prevention & Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases & Stroke Programme (NPCDCS)” and “the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly”. Highlights of the programme include the following: It has been taken up for implementation as a pilot project in 100 most remote and backward districts of the country, spread over 21 States, at a cost of app 245 million USD. A Cardiac Care Unit 100 districts.NCD clinic is being established at 100 district hospitals and 700 CHCs for diagnosis and management of CVD, Diabetes & Stroke. For early detection of cancer cases equipments and Human Resources will made available at these 100 district hospitals. Day care Chemotherapy facilities will be established at 100 district hospitals. Under the programme, screening for diabetes and high blood pressure is being provided to all persons above 30 years, including pregnant women of all age groups at 20,000 Sub-Centres in these 100 districts. Covering a population base of almost 100-150 million, this is the largest such exercise attempted anywhere in the World.
I would urge all of you to contribute in this mammoth national endeavour, according to your aptitude capacity and ability, particularly through exchange of expertise and ideas, to make the pilot project successful.
My last point is about the role of the Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) which is directly related to the topic of today’s seminar Health and Wellness. We all are aware of the increased interest worldwide in complementary, alternative and indigenous/traditional medicine. This is a reflection of the changing attitudes. The existing wellness market in India alone is estimated to be of INR 110 billion and is forecasted to grow at a rate of about 33%. It is heartening to hear that in the US, around 60% of the medical schools are teaching alternative medical practices. Similar encouraging trends in respect of complementary medicine and homeopathy are in evidence in Belgium, France and a number of other European countries. Indian systems of medicine have an untapped export market despite a long tradition of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Yoga and Naturotherapy.
Here you can play a very significant role in awareness creation and identification of potential markets for ISM products. Foreign students could also be encouraged to study at various Indian institutions offering courses in Indian systems of medicine. We have the largest number of traditional and alternative medicine teaching institutions in the world. We are also training students from many neighboring countries and I am sure that India will continue to be the major hub for all systems of medical education, including alternative medicine, in Asia with its focus on excellence.
Friends, I did not mean to overwhelm you with suggestions but these are just food for thought – some starting points for us to work together and create a better and healthy India. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Jaipur at a time of the year which is undoubtedly the very best and a safe journey back home. I hope some of these thoughts would stay with you and trigger action sooner than later.
Let me leave you with a final thought from Mahatma Gandhi “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history”. I am confident your determination and your love for your own country could change the course of health in India.