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Shortage of specialists, doctors, nurses and paramedics is one of the biggest impediments in streamlining national rural health mission project
Shortage of human resources was proving a hurdle in strengthening the public health delivery system through the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted.

Addressing the 44th convocation of the Post–Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here, the Prime Minister said that even though critical indicators of health had shown consistent improvement over the years, India did not compare favourably with other countries.

It is also a fact that in the public sector today we are spending one per cent of the GDP on healthcare. It has been our goal to raise it to two to three per cent. Both the central and state governments have to work hard to achieve this goal, he said.

“Our progress has been much less than what we would have liked to achieve and are capable of achieving. It also does not compare well with what a number of other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, have achieved,” he said.

The Prime Minister said a number of steps are being taken to address the deficiencies of the NRHM, reports IANS.

A review of the National Rural Health Mission points to the acute shortage of human resources at various levels in the health sector – specialists, doctors, nurses and paramedics. This is one of the biggest impediments to strengthening of the public health delivery system and scaling up access to healthcare.

To address this deficiency, the government has taken a number of initiatives. More medical colleges and nursing schools are being established, particularly in the less developed states. The student–teacher ratio has been enhanced in specialties and super–specialties from the current level of 1:1 to 2:1. This is expected to increase the number of post–graduate specialists by almost 5,000 from the existing level of 13,000 within a short period of time, he said.

The Prime Minister asked institutes like the PGIMER to reach out to the common man by laying emphasis on preventive healthcare as curative healthcare proved costly.

“The mission of PGI will remain incomplete unless the interest of the common man is addressed effectively and purposefully. Institutions like yours must link more effectively with the community and address its needs.”

He added, “Only when the lives of the common people, be they in Tripura or the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, are touched by your research and the most underprivileged child in your ward goes back home satisfied with your care, will your mission be truly accomplished.”

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that PGI had made a name for itself in healthcare in the northwestern region of the country.

“It is not for nothing that patients in north–west India say if their disease cannot be treated and cured in PGI, it is doubtful if anyone else can treat it,” Azad said.

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