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PM calls for holistic training of health professionals

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 28 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today decried a gap in human resources in the health sector and the inablity of this key sector to absorb and opitmally utilise extra financial resources while calling for bridging this gap to ensure effective delivery of health care programmes in the country.

''Programmes for the poor will degenerate into poor programmes if these deficiencies are not corrected,'' pointed out Dr Singh while delivering the keynote address at the launch of the Public Health Foundation of India.

Stressing the need for adequate investment in the education and health sectors which are vital for human resource development, the Prime Minister said, ''If we do not effectively upscale the knowledge and skills of our people and act purposefully to protect and promote their health, we run the risk of wasting this precious human resource.'' Asserting that good health is not merely a developmental resource but is also an inalienable human right of every citizen of this country, Dr Singh admitted it was the bounden duty of the state and the society to ensure that this right is fully respected and adequately realised.

The prime minister expressed concern over the skewed distribution of specialisation among doctors and capacity gap among health personnel.

There is a severe shortage of trained public health professionals with broad based multi-disciplinary knowledge of the determinants of health.

''Such deficiencies are more acute within the public health services sector and generate a more severe impact than deficiencies in clinical medicine. They complicate the task of managing public health programmes. Such lacunae also impose an additional burden on medical doctors, who are trained primarily as clinical care providers. All these have resulted in the suboptimal performance of major health programmes,'' he pointed out.

He said that the country needed public health professionals equipped with expertise and managerial skills to design and deliver health programmes at the national level and down to the village. He stressed the need for providing relevant training to enhance the capabilities of health care providers involved in public health services.

Pointing out that issues of health, particularly in the developing countries have strong links with social, economic, environmental and cultural factors, Dr Singh said that they need a response that appreciates intersecting spaces. It is this understanding of intersecting spaces within which health policy needs to be located, and the PHFI seeks to bridge a major gap in health education by training professionals in disciplines that relate to health, such as economics, sociology, demography and environment, in addition to the management of diseases.

''We need to develop a new cadre of professionals who are managers of health and not just diseases. We have good quality human resources in the area of clinical management. But we woefully lack public health managers. I commend the PHFI in taking this initiative to bridge a critical gap in health education and in blazing a trail by setting up a series of public health schools,'' he said.

Dr Singh said that India has the opportunity of becoming a global destination for cheap and high quality health care. The demographic contrast between young India and an aging world gives us an opportunity to train professionals at different levels to meet the needs of the emerging global care industry, he pointed out. He called for developing an ''Indian agenda'' both in academics and research. Many tropical diseases are under research and PHFI, by harnessing the best technical expertise from all over the world, could break new ground in the management of tropical diseases. A research agenda in response to the Indian situation would also emerge, he said.

The Prime Minister hoped that PHFI would invest in capacity building in existing public health institutions, many of who have failed to deliver.

''We need to revitalise and strengthen departments of social and preventive medicine in our medical colleges. We have a rich legacy in the area, but of late, we have neglected this apsect. Your efforts will help invigorate our health services and contribute to the success of health programmes,'' he observed.

Calling for enhancing health literacy among people, Dr Singh said that people must be empoered to become effective agents for the promotion of personal and public health. He said that PHFI's public health schools could help the government by training people who could, in turn, build capacities at middle and senior management level in the health system so as to effectively implement programmes like the National Rural Health Mission.

He said that setting up of the PHFI presents an opportunity to develop innovative models of public-private partnership in social sector programmes. Such partnership could help blend the commitment of the government with the operational efficiency of not for profit private groups. He also congratulated corporates who have contributd to this laudable efforts.

Speaking on this occasion, Health Minister Ambumoni Ramdoss said that health needs a holistic approach so that equitable facilities to could be provided to all. He said that NRHM was launched with this aim and medical education has been made more practical, social and rural oriented. He stressed the need to impart a greater degree of professional managerial capacity to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the health sector. He also called for a multi-sectoral approach with greater investment of resources by the private sector.

Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen said that delivery of health care to poor people was a major problem and the government run-public sector has to play a greater role in this regard. Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal and Prof K Srinath Reddy, Caridologist at All India Institute of Medical Sciences also spoke on this occasion.

PHFI, is a first of its kind public-private initiative which would work to strengthen the public health system in India. It will work with a broad range of national and international partners to establish five world class public health institutes, each of which will train more than 1,000 public health professionals annually. He will strengthen quality standards of public health education and create a ''think tank'' to conduct research on critical health policy issues and provide advice to health decision makers, informed Mr Rajat Kumar Gupta, Senior Partner worldwide of Mckinsey and company.


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