Sun, Oct 23, 2016 | updated 03:04 PM IST

Over eight lakh additional hospital beds required in northeast to equal world average

Updated: Jul 09, 2016 18:06 IST

Guwahati, July 9 (ANI Newsvoir): "To achieve inclusive development, major public and private sector investments are required in health care in the north-east,"-this was the key massage that emerged from the two-day North East Health Care Summit organized by FICCI and PHFI in Guwahati.

The summit was inaugurated by Lal Thanzara, Minister, Health and FW, Mizoram along with Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman, FICCI NE Advisory Council, Dr. K Srinath Reddy, President Public Health Foundation of India (through VC), and Jayanto Narayan Choudhury, vice president PHFI, along with state health ministers from Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Members of Parliaments from north eastern states.

In his address the Thanzara, congratulated the organisers-- FICCI and PHFI for organising this important summit that highlights key issues in today's evolving healthcare scenario pertinent to northeastern parts of the country.

However, he lamented that due to lack of financial resources, skilled manpower in health, tough terrains and quality medical colleges, healthcare has taken a back seat in this region.

"Poor healthcare services in the northeast and the need to enhance manpower, including setting up of more medical colleges in the region the requirement of the day. There is an urgent need to review the progress of schemes sanctioned by centre or the NEC towards the improvement of healthcare services in the region, especially infrastructure, in addition to finding out better ways and means to remove health problems and inaccessibility to quality healthcare especially in rural areas of the region. At present, only Assam, Tripura and Manipur have been able to set up their own medical colleges, while states like Mizoram, which grapple with Cancer, are yet to get any college," he said.

Thanzara also appealed to the attending delegates and organisations to put aside monetary benefits and work towards the improvement of healthcare services in this region.

Ranjit Barthakur, chairman, FICCI NE Advisory Council said, "The northeastern region has the potential to become the new growth driver for the Indian economy but this can happen only if the population can function to its full potential, unbridled by the burden of diseases."

"Globally, an average of 2.9 beds are available per 1000 population, therefore to even reach anywhere close to the global average, with a population of 45.45 million people, the north east would need over eight lakh additional hospital beds" he added.

Dr. K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, in his video address said, "Northeast is one of the most vibrant regions in India, but its health indicators have unfortunately lagged behind rest of India on many counts. With so much technological and infrastructure advancements, it is time to bring about a rapid improvement in the public health indicators, especially in light of the renewed commitment by the central government towards speedy achievement of universal health coverage in the entire north-east region."

"Already active in the region through its various capacity building and training programmes, Public Health Foundation of India, and its affiliate Indian Institute of Public Health in Shillong, aims to improve health outcomes in the entire Northeast region through educational, research, training, policy and advocacy activities. With a view to complement various state and national level health initiatives, in this two day summit, all stakeholders be it policymakers, industry and health practitioners, will come up with a forward looking plan to improve the health scenario in the entire region, and become a major healthcare hub for entire Southeast Asia," he added.

Over 200 delegates including doctors from the north eastern states, national and regional speakers and stakeholders representing hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical devices companies and others participated in the deliberations.

The summit, which laid major stress on making affordable and accessible world class health care available across the region, also highlighted the need for taking a holistic approach to health care, giving equal importance to different alternate and complimentary systems of medicine.

Health care has emerged as one of the most challenging sectors as well as one of the largest service sector industries in India which constitutes around six percent of India's GDP and employs over four million people.

The Indian healthcare sector is expected to become a USD 280 billion industry by 2020 with spending on health estimated to grow at around 14 percent annually. Though India is witnessing some remarkable improvements in healthcare across the country, Northeastern states are still lagging behind in meeting the required healthcare standards.

The summit also highlighted the emerging opportunities for health care in areas like medical value tourism and alternative and complementary medicine, which aimed at mainstreaming of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) systems and the revitalization of local health traditions (LHT) within the policy on medical pluralism currently being implemented in the entire country. (ANI Newsvoir)