Various healthcare schemes and awareness programmes undertaken by the present government have resulted in a sharp decline in the maternal and infant mortality ratio in India when compared to global average, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said. “The comparison between Sample Registration System’s report released in 2005 and 2015 clearly shows the decline. It is an outcome of various programmes implemented by the new government,” Nadda said at a conference on ‘Healthcare: Commodity or basic human need’, organised by the Tata Memorial Centre on the occasion of its Platinum Jubilee.
“We have increased the immunisation scale across the country. Measures like educating people about healthcare, empowering health workers are also supporting the government’s efforts. All these initiatives are benefiting the society,” said the minister.
“India is projected to nearly achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 and 5, while the MDG 6 goal to reverse the incidence of Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS has already been achieved. What is perhaps noteworthy is that India’s mortality rate for age under five and maternal mortality ratio declined at a higher pace than global average. There has been a significant decline in Total Fertility Rate (TFR),” said Nadda.
“It is our endeavour to ensure that all persons have access to quality healthcare; however, a lot more needs to be done for achieving universal access to equitable, affordable and quality healthcare services,” he said.
“Our country faces twin burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Compared to last century, when communicable diseases were more prevalent, the current challenge is of non-communicable diseases,” he said.
“It is more about lifestyle. The socio-economic impacts of NCDs are thus that it attenuates our progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The government will soon provide a pictorial book educating school students about junk and health foods.
“It will also provide primary level information about ideal ratio of body weight and its height, television watching and its impact,” Nadda said.
“Cancer control is a major challenge for all of us,” he added.”National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardio-vascular diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) is being implemented to supplement the efforts of the state governments in the country for improving healthcare including prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” said the minister.
“The government has also approved a scheme for enhancing the tertiary care cancer facilities in the country under NPCDCS,” he said.
“The treatment of cancer is either free or subsidised in government institutions. Financial assistance to poor patients is also provided under the Health Minister’s Discretionary Grant (HMDG), Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) and Health Minister’s Cancer Patient Fund (HMCPF) within the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi,” he said.
Nadda said, “Such conference is relevant in the current context given the high cost of modern healthcare interventions and the enormous market and peer pressure to adopt them versus a basic necessity for survival.”
“The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is implementing a number of schemes, programmes and national initiatives to expand the reach and increase access to quality healthcare,” he said.