Citing WHO's grim predictions about medical challenges before the country, President Pratibha Patil on Sunday said the expansion of healthcare facilities in India was still a "work in progress".
"Good health parameters of a society are an absolute necessity for the economic progress... For India, a country with the second largest population in the world, we can realise our demographic dividend only if we empower our citizens," Patil told reporters after inaugurating Seven Hills hospital in suburban Andheri this morning.
One way of empowerment was providing adequate health facilities, she added.
"Since, our independence we have achieved some success in the healthcare sector like increase in life expectancy and eradication of some endemic diseases. However, it is still a work in progress. We are yet to reach the goal of health for all... access and affordability of healthcare for underprivileged and marginalised sections, in particular women and children, remain unaccomplished tasks," Patil, who is on a two-day visit here, said, adding "penetration of health services in rural areas is particularly low."
Talking about the threat perception by 'lifestyle diseases', Patil said as per WHO, there would be 80 million diabetes patients in the country by 2030, while as per the Cardiological Society of India, there would be a 100 million heart cardiac patients -- 60 per cent of the total cardiac patients in the world -- in India by 2020.
"WHO has cautioned that India would be diabetes capital of the world," she added.