A council for human resource in health soon: PM (Second Lead)

Friday, October 1, 2010

NEW DELHI - Signalling an end to the turf war between the human resource development and health ministries over control of medical education in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said a bill for the formation of a council for human resource in health will be introduced in parliament soon.

“The Government of India is reviewing the existing regulatory system for medical education. Ministry of Health has prepared a draft bill for setting up a National Council for Human Resource in Health that will be introduced soon in parliament,” the prime minister said, addressing the 38th Convocation of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the country’s premier research and referral hospital.

The two ministries came to loggerheads when the HRD ministry proposed taking medical education under the ambit of its proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), while the health ministry proposed a separate National Council for Human Resource in Health (NCHRH).

The prime minister said that the bill would help in revamping the health education system, which is the need of the hour.

“The bill (NCHRH) will seek to create an enabling environment that will address issues of quality, quantity and equitable distribution of medical education resources. National Council for Human Resource in Health will be formed soon,” he said.

As the country undergoes a phase of transformation in the field of education in general, the prime minister said an inter-disciplinary approach is needed for health education.

“The need of the hour is to produce professionals who address health not only from the perspective of the individual patient but as part of a team integrated into the larger health system. Inter-disciplinary and health system connectivity have to be the key coordinates on which medical education has to advance,” he said.

“In the future, it is not biology alone that will drive medical care. Disciplines such as epidemiology, economics, social and behavioural sciences, ethics and human rights will all influence the manner in which health will be promoted and healthcare provided to our nation.”

While the health ministry looked enthused over the backing, a deadline for bringing the bill was not given.

“Health education will remain with health ministry, the consultations for the bill are on,” Health Secretary Sujatha Rao told IANS.

Highlighting the shortage of trained medical professionals as one of the biggest problems, the prime minister said that several schemes are being launched to address the issue.

“India needs many more health professionals, of different categories, to fill the huge shortfall in the health workforce,” he said, adding that work for starting six new AIIMS-like institutions is in progress.

Manmohan Singh also highlighted several other schemes to increase the numbers of doctors, and other medical staff.

“A new scheme, with the potential of adding about 5,000 postgraduate seats, starting with the 2012 academic session, has been approved for strengthening and upgrading state government medical colleges,” he said.

He added that efforts are afoot to increase the allocation to health care and the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) envisaged an increase in public expenditure on health to at least 2 percent of GDP while the Twelfth Plan period aims to achieve the goal of taking the total allocation for the health sector to 2-3 percent of our GDP.

Manmohan Singh also stressed on creating a vision for the growth of AIIMS to make it one of the top ten medical institutes in the world. Backing the recent Veliathan Committee report which among other things suggests autonomy for AIIMS, the prime minister said changes were needed to meet the aim of growth of AIIMS.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, speaking at the event, stressed on reducing the regional imbalances in the field of health care delivery. He also expressed concern over the shortage of trained professionals and informed about the measures being taken for reducing the gap between demand and supply.

“Regional imbalance, rural urban distribution and distribution in the public vis-a-vis private sector are issues which have to be dealt with in a planned and systematic manner,” Azad said.

“Amendments have been carried out in the regulations prescribing the minimum requirement for establishment of medical colleges, requirement of land, bed-strength, infrastructure and faculty have been rationalized,” he added.

Filed under: Medicine

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