Azad speaks on NEET at PGI convocation

Significant achievements have been made in health sector under NRHM. About 43,500 new health infrastructure works have been created, 1.45 lakh human resources added and nearly 70 thousand increase in bed capacity to provide essential and emergency services in rural, remote and difficult areas.ShriGhulamNabi Azad, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare said at Chandigarh today. 

Addressing the 33rd Convocation of PGIMER, Chandigarh, Shri Azad said a nation-wide programme for weekly supplementation of iron and folic acid has been initiated to cover 130 million adolescents. With phenomenal increase in institutional deliveries, from about 7 hundred thousand in 2005-06 to over 10 million every year for the past two years, the available infrastructure has been stretched to meet the demand. More than 25,000 additional maternal and child health beds have been sanctioned in 415 health facilities in 11 States across the country this year to meet the huge demand. Latest initiative of the Health Ministry is the “Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram”, which was launched on 6th February, 2013 from a tribal block of Thane District in Maharashtra by Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, UPA. This national programme is for Universal Screening of Children for Disorders, Diseases, Deficiencies and Disabilities from birth up to 18 years and will cover 270 million children across the country. These include 20 million babies born at public health facilities and home,80 million Pre-school children, from 6 weeks to 6 years old enrolled in Anganwadi centres in rural areas and urban slums and 170 million children, 6-18 years old and enrolled in classes from 1st to 12th in Government and Government aided schools. 

He said a series of reforms in medical education have been undertaken to overcome the acute shortage of human resources in health at various levels.The number of MBBS seats has increased by 46% and PG seats by 70% in the last five years. The availability of MBBS seats has gone up from 33,567 to 45,629 and the number of PG seats increased from 13,838 to 22,850. 72 new medical colleges, including six AIIMS, were established raising the number from 290 to 362. The Medical Colleges at the six new AIIMS have started functioning with admission of 50 students each in September, 2012. Another important initiative has been the launch of the single entrance test in the name of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to UG and PG medical courses being conducted from the academic year 2013-14 to save the students from hardships faced in appearing in multiple entrance exams across the country and bring uniformity in the standards of admission to the medical course to promote merit.Several other proposals are being considered by the Ministry to give a fillip to the medical education sector, especially increasing the intake of MBBS students, during the 12th Five Year Plan, beginning this year. These include further relaxation in infrastructure requirements for establishment of new medical colleges, formulating guidelines for allowing district hospitals to be used for establishing medical colleges on PPP mode,increase in intake capacity from 50 or 100 seats to 100 or 150 seats respectively at UG level on completion of 10 years, compulsory posting of 1 year for medical graduates at primary health centres and postgraduates at community health centres as part of their internship periods.

Shri Azad said India has earned international accolades for collective efforts at containing Polio, with the longest polio-free period ever since eradication efforts were launched.There have been significant falls in MMR, IMR and TFR as well as reduction in new HIV cases by 57%.The launch of mass screening for early detection of Non Communicable Diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension and Cancer and new initiatives for well-being of mother and new born children by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has helped to deal with public health concerns.India is better prepared nowto deal with disease outbreaks and epidemics. The total number of labs for testing virus infections has been increasedfrom 2 to 45 at present. 

Talking about PGIMER, Chandigarh, he said the Institute has contributed a lot to the national effort of adding skilled human resource in health. To enable the Institute to continue to impart state of the art knowledge and skills and undertake research, Rs. 635 crores has been allocated this year. In-principle approval has been given to the Institute to develop a 300 bed satellite centre of PGIMER at Sangrur in Punjab in collaboration with the Tata Memorial Centre. Environment clearance for the proposed 250 bed hospital has been obtained, Shri Azad added. 

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherji also addressed the Convocation. He also presented Awards to Students and medals to meritorious students. 

Commemorative Postal Stamp on PGI Golden was presented to the President on the occasion. 

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