The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today emphasised the need to rebuild, restructure and reinvent our healthcare systems for the post-pandemic era of the 21st century. He wanted all stakeholders—public, private and people to join together in this humongous task of strengthening India’s health infrastructure and ensure the well-being of the people.
Addressing the 8th Annual Summit of the NATHEALTH through a pre-recorded video message, the Vice President said that over the course of the pandemic, we have learnt many valuable lessons related to the challenges in our healthcare system and called for using this experience towards re-imagining a resilient healthcare system for a new phase in the post-COVID era.
Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the healthcare systems world over, the Vice President said that India, as a team, fought back admirably and showed great resilience in the face of adversity. “This is reflected in the indigenous development of vaccines and administration of over 180 crore doses, which is a stupendous achievement and a global benchmark,” he added. Shri Naidu also praised the commitment and sacrifices of Indian healthcare workers- both in the public and private sectors.
Noting the pressing need to increase public expenditure in health, the Vice President wanted this increase in spending to go hand-in-hand with capacity building, such as increasing the doctor-to-population ratio, as per WHO standards.
Calling for urgently bridging the spatial disparity in healthcare facilities between the urban and rural areas, Shri Naidu stressed the need for immediate impetus to primary healthcare in rural India. Talking about the need to bring down high out-of-pocket expenditure on health in India, he appreciated various government programs in this regard including Ayushman Bharat, Jan Aushadhi Kendras and the proposal to increase the number of district hospitals among others.
The Vice President also said that COVID-19 pandemic has shown the potential of using digital technologies and suggested leveraging our strengths in ICT for improving healthcare. “Digital health and Telehealth services must be expanded to remote rural areas to ensure equitable access to quality healthcare,” he said.
Shri Naidu also called for greater focus on curbing the worrying trend of increasing Non-Communicable Diseases in India, which account for around 60 per cent of deaths in the country. Stressing the need to create greater awareness among people on these ‘lifestyle diseases’, he urged health experts and cultural icons to take the lead in this regard.
The Vice President congratulated NATHEALTH for bringing together key stakeholders onto one platform to discuss the important topic of public health, and conveyed his best wishes to the organizers, participants and the members of the Healthcare Federation of India for their sterling efforts.