The UPA government would soon unveil an urban health mission on the lines of National Rural Health Mission. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi stated this on the outskirts of Meghalaya capital Shillong on Friday.
The agenda of the urban health mission – its timeframe is yet to be set – would be to cater primarily to slum dwellers and the urban poor.
“We felt the need for an NRHM-like programme for urban areas in order to improve health infrastructure across the country,” Gandhi said while formally inaugurating the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS).
Sited at Mawdiangdiang, 7 km from Shillong, NEIGRIHMS is India’s third post-graduate medical institute after AIIMS, New Delhi and PGIMER, Chandigarh. It started functioning five years ago without any formal inauguration.
The UPA Chairperson also assured incentives to make NEIGRIHMS attract and retain faculties. This, after Meghalaya Chief Minister DD Lapang pointed out the lack of academicians and doctors at the institute.
Of the 367 posts at the super-specialty institute, only 148 have been filled up. And of the 52 super-specialists NEIGRIHMS requires, only five have joined so far.
“Shortage of doctors is a nationwide phenomenon, and we are looking into it seriously. We are planning to increase the seats of all medical colleges to tide over this crisis,” said Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. He added that the Department of Ayush would be setting up an ayurvedic institute at NEIGRIHMS.
The day also saw Gandhi “symbolically” laying the foundation stone of a new Congress Bhavan at Polo Ground in Shillong. The site for this Bhavan is yet to be idenfitied.
Addressing a mammoth public rally at Polo, the UPA Chairperson said: “The Congress is paying more attention to the development of youth, particularly in geographically disadvantaged regions such as the Northeast.”
She also reminded why India’s future depended on the Congress remaining in power. “The Congress is different from other political parties that are high on the divisive agenda,” she added.