“Dear Sisters and Brothers,
It gives me immense pleasure to inaugurate new units and state-of-the art equipment and interact with all of you, particularly the young and energetic medical students. I have many fond memories associated with Vijayawada and I always look forward to visiting this vibrant city.
Thanks to the gradual decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and improvement in the situation, we are able to meet here today. Doctors, scientists and all the frontline workers deserve special commendation for their dedication and selfless service to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19 transmission. I also compliment the Union Government and various states for administering more than 105 crore vaccine doses till now.
As you all are aware, various economic activities have picked up pace and it is projected that India will record a growth rate of 9.5 % during the current financial year and 8.5 per cent in 2022. It is a welcome sign. However, every one of us must remain on guard and continue to adhere to COVID-related protocols till the situation returns to complete normalcy. We cannot act recklessly and invite another wave. I am sure that as those associated with the medical profession, all of you will create greater awareness on this issue among the people.
Medical profession is one of the noblest professions and all of you should always remain committed to the Hippocrates Oath. Never deviate from the righteous path and maintain the highest ethical and moral standards. Unfortunately, the medical profession has become increasingly commercialized over the years. My advice to all the budding medical graduates is to serve the people selflessly with sincerity, dedication and passion. Human touch is an important aspect that is missing in doctor-patient interactions these days. I feel that every doctor should try to spend more time with a patient rather than attending to every case in a routine and mechanical fashion. As physicians, you need to be empathetic and provide psychological comfort to patients who seek your consultation.
Every medical college should also involve students in community service to inculcate an attitude of share and care among them.
While India has eradicated diseases like small pox and polio and there has been remarkable improvement in various health indicators, we still have many challenges in the health sector. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the dire need for expansion of our health infrastructure at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. I must compliment Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi for launching Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission which seeks to strengthen critical healthcare network from village to the national level in the next four to five years.
The problem of manpower shortage needs to be addressed on a war footing by all the stakeholders. I am pleased to note that India is on the path to achieve the WHO-recommended ratio of one doctor per 1,000 people by 2024. Similarly, the number of trained nurses and medical technicians has to be vastly increased. All this requires, long-term measures and I am glad that the union government has announced plans for setting up at least one medical college in every district and a network of 22 AIIMS across the country.
While expanding health infrastructure and addressing manpower shortage, it is important to fully leverage India’s strength in the IT sector. There is a need to promote public-private partnership (PPP) in different areas, including establishing telemedicine connectivity to remote rural areas. Telemedicine will help in reducing costs and improving access.
In view of the shortage of manpower in the rural areas, I had suggested making rural service mandatory before giving the first promotion to government doctors. There is a need to attract more doctors to the rural areas by providing incentives and improving housing and other infrastructure
I am sure, the recently launched Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission would help in creating the necessary ecosystem for delivering an efficient and inclusive universal health coverage. Similarly, the largest health assurance scheme in the world is being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY, which aims at providing a health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to over 10.74 crores poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) that form the bottom 40% of the Indian population.
Dear sisters and brothers,
The need of the hour is to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all. In view of the high levels of out-of-pocket expenditure, it is important to increase public spending in the health sector.
The 15th Finance Commission has recommended that states should increase spending on health to more than 8% of their respective budgets by 2022 and the public health expenditure of the Centre and States together should be increased in a progressive manner to reach 2.5 percent of GDP by 2025.
At the same time, I would urge the private players in the health sector to join hands with government in providing affordable state-of-the-art treatment modalities to the people.
Sisters and brothers,
The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for medical fraternity to be ready to tackle the outbreak of any new disease or epidemic. It, therefore, makes it imperative for medical colleges to increase their focus on research on emerging diseases. While setting up more medical colleges, it should also be ensured that the quality of medical education is not compromised in any manner.
Along with combating this pandemic, we have to pay our attention to other pressing challenges on the health front. We are witnessing a disturbing trend of rapid increase in Non-Communicable Diseases. About 65% of deaths in India are now caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This is a cause for concern. As young medical professionals, I urge upon all of you to not only adopt a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but motivate others too. There has to be a concerted effort by all stakeholders to arrest the trend of growing NCDs.
Dear students, each one of you should devote some time for social or community service once a week or fortnight. You must visit a nearby slum or a school to create awareness among the people on the dangers of NCDs and motivate them to adopt healthy lifestyles by undertaking regular physical exercise, consuming healthy diet and avoiding harmful substances.
As you move ahead in your career, always remember the motto of service and uphold high ethical and moral values. Always lend a human touch while treating your patients. All the best for your future endeavours!