President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said quality healthcare was a necessity for every individual and underlined the need to ensure better infrastructure in rural areas so that doctors serve there. At the foundation of the Shambhu Shetty Memorial Haji Abdullah Super Speciality Hospital here, the President said quality healthcare was not a luxury but a necessity and noted that against the international norm of one doctor per thousand population, the country had one doctor for 1,700 people.
“The situation is more alarming in rural India where the shortage of surgeons is 83.4 per cent, obstetricians and gynaecologists 76.3 per cent, paediatrics 82.1 per cent and general physician 83 per cent at the level of the community health centres,” he said. “This is compounded by the fact that we educate and train about 50 per cent less doctors than our requirement stands at,” he said, stressing that the shortage of doctors require immediate intervention and emphasised on more focus and investments in the field of preventive healthcare.
Mukherjee called for ample infrastructure at the district and other rural areas and to encourage doctors and practitioners to serve there. The President also emphasised on the need to increase engagement of the corporate sector in public private partnership in the field of public health, especially in rural areas.
“Though advances in modern medicine and investment in health infrastructure have made many diseases like cholera, smallpox, plague and tuberculosis curable, there is a huge gap in our country for access to medicine and healthcare, which is skewed in terms of infrastructure and personnel,” he said. Asserting that only a healthy mind and healthy body can be the abode of God, the President said access to affordable healthcare should be the objective.
He also spoke against attacks by relatives on doctors, calling for cooperation between physicians, doctors, medical personalities and the patients, their friends and relatives. “Sometimes we find that if a patient dies, the angry mob led by their relatives vandalise the hospital, beat the physician or surgeons. This is not good. No civilised society can tolerate it,” he said.
“Yes, doctors can try, medicines can do wonders, but at the same time one has to keep it in mind that there would be deaths. This type of vandalism should be condemned.” Karnataka Health Minister Ramesh Kumar and Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George were among the dignitaries present on the occasion. Later, the President visited the famous Sri Krishna temple in this pilgrim town in coastal Dakshina Kannada district.
Ahead of the President’s visit, shops around the temple and along the Car Street were shut by the district administration for security reasons. Movement of hundreds of pilgrims and tourists were also restricted till Mukherjee left the temple complex. He also visited Hindu goddess Mookambika’s temple at Kollur and performed Sarvalanka puja there.