“Healthcare is above all else a service. Yes, it is also a business – but there is no greater business than saving a life.”- President Kovind
Vellore: President Ram Nath Kovind stressed the need to reform medical education and create room for more colleges and medical graduates to increase the number of healthcare professionals in the country.
In his address at the centenary celebrations of Medical Education Programme of Christian Medical College here, Kovind said the country was experiencing a “transition”, which is associated with multiple challenges in disease control that have to be managed simultaneously.
While the country has 1.47 million undergraduate engineering seats, there were only 67,352 such medical seats, he said.
About 20 per cent of those medical seats were added in the past four years, he said, adding “as a country and a system, we need to address this gap quickly”.
“There is urgent need to do this… and to reform medical education so as to create room for more colleges and more medical graduates,” he said.
The President, on a two-day official visit to Tamil Nadu, said “countries go through epidemiological transitions” as societies evolve, economies develop and population patterns change.
He said India, too, was experiencing such a transition and that it was marked by three challenges in disease control which have to be managed simultaneously.
First, India has to reduce maternal and infant mortality as well as communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, vector-borne diseases like malaria, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoeal diseases, and vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and tetanus, he said.
Further, the country has to “find an answer” to the rise in non-communicable or lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers.
“And finally, we need to develop systems to detect and cope with new and re-emerging infectious diseases like HIV, avian flu and H1N1 influenza,” he said.
In a globalised world, with people travelling in and out of India in larger numbers, “a few small cases can very quickly scale up into a large outbreak,” he added. “Despite the strides we have taken as a country, there remain regional, rural-urban and gender and community imbalances in terms of health provision,” he said.
“Without adequately addressing these, we cannot rest,” Kovind said.
The President lauded the CMC, saying it ranked third among all medical colleges in India as per the Human Resource Development Ministry.
He also recalled the contributions of CMC founder, Ida Sophia Scudder, saying she devoted her life to improving healthcare in India during the early 20th century when diseases like “cholera, smallpox and polio” and “several epidemics and diseases were rampant.”