Lok Sabha discusses high cost of health sector due to privatisation

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New Delhi, Nov 22 (UNI) Without countering the claim of grim health scenario in the country by senior CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta in Lok Sabha today, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said the UPA government cannot transform the health sector overnight without state governments chipping in to bring in overall improvement.

Replying to supplementaries on a call attention motion by the Communist leader on high cost of health services and laws to regulate private nursing homes, the Minister said inspite of high cost of health services in the private sector, India still had the lowest cost of treatment in the world.

He said the Clinical Establishments (registeration and regulation) Bill, 2007, introduced during the last session of Parliament in August, was being examined by the department's Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Admitting that UPA government was committed to increasing the expenditure on health care from 0.9 per cent of gross domestic product when it took over in 2004 to 2-3 per cent of GDP in 5 years under the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP), Dr Ramadoss said health budget had already increased to Rs 15,800 crore from Rs 6,500 crore when it took over at the Centre. But he lamented that budgetary allocation on health care by states had declined from 7.5 per cent in the 1990s to 5 per cent in early 2000s and in some states, it had declined to just 2 per cent. Dr Ramadoss said, ''I had inherited an 80:20 (private:state) health sector three and a half years ago.... I cannot transform it overnight'' without state governments' contribution.

On the ten-fold rise in prices of medicines as claimed by Mr Dasgupta, the Minister said it was not a part of his ministry but assured that the government was taking all the necessary steps to control drug prices.

While sharing Mr Dasgupta's concern over high infant mortality rate of 58 per 1,000 live births, Dr Ramadoss said 10 to 20 lakh people have to work day and night to bring it down by just 1 per cent.

But the Minister did not respond to CPI leader's statement that 50 per cent of the world's hungry lived in India, 50 per cent children under 5 years were malnourished and 1.20 million children under 5 died every year due to malnutrition.

Dasgupta called for increased spending in the health sector which he said was just 1.38 per cent of GDP as against 7.5 per cent recommended by the World Health Organisation.

UNI

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