NRI doctors to set up free clinics, face funding problem

January 2nd, 2009 - 5:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 2 (IANS) With plans for at least one free health care clinic in every state of India and training professionals to improve the rural health care system here, a group of NRI doctors has some big plans lined up. Funding, however, is a challenge, they admit.On the eve of the Indo-US Healthcare summit Friday, Sanku S. Rao, president of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), said the association will first train health care professionals in the rural setting of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, before fanning out to other states.

AAPI, which has nearly 60,000 members in the US, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian government four years ago to help improve the health care scenario in India in association with doctors here.

“Four years back when we signed the MoU, the government of India and the state governments were very enthusiastic to work in association with us but funding posed to be a problem,” Rao said at a press conference in the capital.

“Therefore, we decided to partner with some of the non-governmental organisations for that purpose. We are also in touch with the private sector to fund some of the projects,” Rao said.

“We are going to have our experts - people who have their roots here - train health care professionals in the primary health care centres in the rural areas such that they can screen the population for diseases like diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, carcinoma of cervix and prostate, deafness in children, maternal and child health care and mental illness,” he added.

Each disease will have a physician as a team leader who will be responsible for implementation of the programme.

“At present AAPI has free health care clinics in 17 places in India, which include Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Karnataka. We want to step that up and go to every state in the country,” Rao said.

“We also work with various agencies to fight AIDS here,” he added.

Saying that they will form a strategic planning committee which will draw their action plan for the next five years and give recommendations on which AAPI will act, Rao said that regular reviewing of those trained in the primary health care centers will be done so that people actually benefit from the services.

The two-day Indo-US health care summit, which begins Saturday, will see more than 150 organisations participate, including the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Medical Council of India (MCI).

“We don’t want to just talk and let things look good on the paper. Implementation is the mist important factor and we will work towards that,” Rao said.

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