Public health is a global public good and a basic human right. Despite the strides we have taken as a country, there remain regional, rural-urban and gender and community imbalances in terms of health provision. Without adequately addressing these, we cannot rest, President of India, Ram Nath Kovind said while inaugurating the centenary celebrations of Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore on Monday.
The President said that as societies evolve, economies develop and population patterns change, countries go through epidemiological transitions. India too is experiencing such a transition. It is marked by three challenges in disease control. And we have to manage all three simultaneously. First, India has to reduce maternal and infant mortality as well as communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, vector-borne diseases such as malaria, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoeal diseases, and vaccine-preventable like measles and tetanus. Second, India has to find an answer to the rise in non-communicable or lifestyle diseases – like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many cancers. And finally we need to develop systems to detect and cope with new and re-emerging infectious diseases like HIV, avian flu and H1N1 influenza. In a globalised world, with people travelling in and out of our country in larger and larger numbers, a few small cases can very quickly scale up into a large outbreak.
The President said that this three-pronged challenge calls for interventions across the continuum of care. It calls for prevention of disease, promotion of good health practices and treatment and cure in case of an illness. The impact of a health problem is cross-cutting – it affects a variety of sectors. The meeting of this challenge should also follow a multi-stakeholder approach. Government and civil society, private and public healthcare providers, charitable and economic institutions all have a role and a stake.
Referring the shortage of manpower in the healthcare system, the President said, there is urgent need for filling the gap in healthcare professionals in our country, and to reform medical education so as to create room for more colleges and more medical graduates. Science and technology are most commonly applied to our benefit by engineers and doctors. In India. we have 1.47 million undergraduate engineering seats, but only 67,352 undergraduate medical seats. As a country and a system, we need to address this gap quickly.
The President said that doctors need a sharp mind – but much more than that, they need a warm heart. He urged CMC Vellore to continue to train doctors and nurses with warm hearts.