President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said India is going through an epidemiological transition and faces three challenges in disease control.
“First, India has to reduce maternal and infant mortality as well as communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, vector-borne diseases such as malaria, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoeal diseases and vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and tetanus.”
Speaking on the centenary celebrations of the Medical Education programme of the Christian Medical College (CMC), Kovind pointed out that the country had to check the rise in non-communicable or lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and many cancers.
“And finally, we need to develop systems to detect and cope with new and re-emerging infectious diseases like HIV, avian flu and H1N1 influenza,” he said in Vellore, around 140 km from Chennai.
Kovind said this calls for interventions across the continuum of care-prevention of disease, promotion of good health practices and treatment and cure in case of an illness.
“The impact of a health problem is cross-cutting — it affects a variety of sectors. The meeting of this challenge should also follow a multi-stakeholder approach. The government and civil society, private and public health care providers, charitable and economic institutions all have a role and a stake.”
According to the President, the National Health Mission, the National Health Policy and the Ayushman Bharat insurance scheme were alive to this broad-based approach and ensure that nobody was deprived of healthcare due to the absence of financial or similar resources.
Kovind said the principles that must guide the philosophy of public health were equity and efficiency, quality and quantity, and access and affordability.
“Yes, it is also a business – but there is no greater business than saving a life. I am sure the CMC community will agree,” he said.
He said there was an urgent need for reform in medical education to create room for more colleges and more medical graduates.
“In India, we have 1.47 million undergraduate engineering seats, but only 67,352 undergraduate medical seats. And about 20 per cent of those seats were added in the past four years.”
Praising CMC for its reputation for excellence, Kovind said: “India’s first re-constructive surgery on leprosy patients was carried out here, and so was the first successful open heart surgery and the first kidney transplant.”
Recent research on the rotavirus vaccine, hepatitis, malnutrition, bio-engineering and stem cells underlines CMC’s commitment to research that is relevant to India’s health needs, he added.
The President is on a two-day visit to Tamil Nadu starting on Friday. On his arrival at the Chennai airport, Kovind was received by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and others.