Regional imbalance in medical infrastructure worries PM

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Guwahati, Aug 25 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today began a two-day visit to Assam, expressing concern over the regional imbalance in medical infrastructure and called for immediate augmentation of the medical educational facilities all over the country.

Dr Singh stressed upon both the Centre as well as state governments to meet the shortage of doctors and said the present number of medical institutions could not meet the growing demand.

Laying the foundation stone of a new medical college at Jorhat, the fourth in the state, the Prime Minister called on the Medical Council of India (MCI) to take serious note of the large-scale shortage of doctors and paramedics in the country.

''According to a recent Planning Commission report, the country will be needing nearly one million nurses in the next five years.

We must ensure that those numbers are reached with better and wider educational facilities. India can be the world capital of human resources,'' he said.

He pointed out that about 60 per cent of the present medical educational facilities were concentrated in southern India, causing regional imbalance in the medial infrastructure as well medical services all over the country.

''This is a serious issue and needs a collective approach by both the Health Ministry and state governments to remove the shortage. As some regions do not have enough doctors, they are not being served properly because of the paucity of doctors. This can be removed only when states start setting up medical institutes,'' he said.

Lauding Assam for opening two more medical colleges within the next few years, he said Assam had taken the lead in developing better medical facilities in the region.

''There has to be a change of mindset about the medical educational facilities and the concept of autonomy amongst the educational institutes has to be promoted for betterment of the academic environment as well as teaching community,'' he said.

The Assam government had set up an autonomous society to run the Medical College. The other two medical colleges in Assam were coming up at Tezpur and Barpeta.

Speaking on the occasion, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said Assam produced around 270 doctors annually to take care of its three crore population.

''However, it is not enough and since the 1970s, no new medical colleges have been set up. The deficit in the number of doctors can be reduced only after the setting up of these three hospitals.

Further, we need to set up at least one new medical college each decade. A total of Rs 480 crore will be needed for the entire project,'' he said.

Assam has done exceedingly well in the implementation of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and topped the national list for quite some time.

The Prime Minister's programme at Nagaon had to be cancelled following bad weather as the chopper could not land there. He later flew to Guwahati where he is supposed to meet several political parties.

Earlier, he was received at the Jorhat airport by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Union Minister Bijoy Krishna Handique and Dr Sarma.

The Prime Minister made an aerial survey of Majuli, the world's largest river island, which was under severe flood threat.

He was supposed to visit the island but instead met a delegation of the religious heads of the ''Xatras'' of the Majuli and got a audio video presentation of the river island, which is facing severe erosion threat.

One of the... picking up from line one, para one of CA 18, PM-ASSAM-HEALTH TWO LAST GUWAHATI.

UNI MT DPM SP RP GC1740

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