Vice-President seeks improvement in Uttar Pradesh health system

January 6th, 2009 - 11:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Jan 6 (IANS) Vice-President Hamid Ansari Tuesday proposed a seven-point programme to the improve the poor health parameters prevailing in Uttar Pradesh. Presiding over the convocation of Chattrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University - the erstwhile King George’s Medical College (KGMC) - here, he expressed regret over the current health statistics of the state’s population.

“Less than 10 percent households in Uttar Pradesh have access to piped drinking water, 33 percent have access to toilets and 42 percent receive electricity,” Ansari told the gathering, adding: “These are in sharp contrast to the national average that stood at 42 percent, 45 percent, and 68 percent respectively.”

He noted that around half the women in the 15-50 age group and 85 percent of children under three years of age suffer from anaemia and nearly 50 per cent of UP’s children are stunted and underweight.

“Less than 25 per cent of the children had received complete immunisation,” Ansari said, also expressing concern against infant mortality rate in the state (73 percent as compared to the country’s average of 57 percent) and life expectancy (56 years as against 74 years in Kerala).

“These figures have national relevance since Uttar Pradesh is home to one-sixth of the nation’s population”, he said.

Citing from a report of the UP State Planning Commission report, he said the state “continues to languish at a low level of human development.”

The vice-president suggested a seven-point programme to take improve the state’s health record.

“The focus needs to be put on reduction in infant mortality as most of the premature deaths and disabilities occur from non-fatal illness,” he stressed.

“Secondly, substantial investment needs to be made in health infrastructure to bring health services within easy reach of the vast population, of which 11 percent have no access to medical care due to locational reasons, while only 11 per cent receive ante-natal care.”

Highlighting how the prevailing state of affairs had disastrous consequences for the poor, Ansari cited yet another State Planning Commission report that “health expenditure is the second highest cause of rural indebtness as over 40 over cent of hospitalised people borrow heavily or sell off their assets to cover the costs.”

Expressing deep concern over the poor service delivery systems, he said, “The reluctance of doctors to serve in rural areas has become a major impediment in ensuring health services to the state’s large rural population”, while quoting a World Bank report estimate of 45 per cent absenteeism among doctors at the Primary Health Centres in rural areas.

He also stressed the need for greater emphasis on “preventive health care with concomitant resource allocation.”

While emphasising the need for a more effective integration of services in the public and private sector, the vice-president also sought expansion of health insurance schemes for the poor.

Calling upon the fresh medical graduates to ponder over their “professional role and the societal expectations”, Ansari asked them as to how many of them would venture to work in rural areas, and for how long?”

“Your decisions on some of the policy and ethical issues would have far reaching implications for Uttar Pradesh and for the country,” he added.

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