Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday announced a tertiary cancer hospital for Hoshiarpur district on which the government would spend Rs 45 crore.
Announcing this at a health fair organised in Garhdiwala tehsil, he said the state government, in consultation with local member of Parliament and district administration, should soon designate a suitable place for the hospital.
"Going by the glorious history of the district, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh studied and taught and which has been represented by several great leaders, including late Giani Zail Singh, Darbara Singh, Ambika Soni and union minister of state for health Santosh Chowdhary, it is but appropriate that I announce something big for it," he said, while making the announcement.
"It would be in addition to the cancer institute which the health ministry has promised to the state," he added. He said people of adjoining Jalandhar, Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts would also benefit from it.
Azad said the Centre had initiated a number of pilot health projects in Punjab but the state was not fully utilising the funds. "I appeal to the state government to utilise the unused money so that we can extend the projects."
He appealed to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to retain Surjit Kumar Jiani as health minister for the remaining term so that the implementation of the central schemes did not get hampered. "I have learnt that in the past one and a half year, Punjab has had four health ministers. I hope Jiani retains the portfolio for the next three years," he said. "Frequent reshuffling proves harmful for the health of the ministry," he commented even as Jiani, who was present on the dais, blushed.
The union minister said the UPA government had implemented several schemes, including MNREGA, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Mission which had focus on rural India. He claimed that the government had spent around one million thousand crores on establishment of 55,000 health centres across the country in the last nine years. The effort was also being done to promote alternative system of medicine by opening AYUSH centres in each and every government health centre, he added. He congratulated Santosh Chowdhary for selecting a remote area for the health fair.
Chowdhary also appealed to the state health minister to submit the utilisation report of the central funds. "Please give an account of the central funds sent earlier under the NRHM and AYUSH so that we can bring more money for the state," she said.
Later talking to mediapersons, Azad said the health ministry had stopped grant to Punjab as the state government had failed to conform to the central guidelines issued for referral transport system provided under the NRHM. "All states must follow the guidelines in this regard to ensure national branding of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and uniformity in the display on ambulances supported by Central funds, but three states, including Punjab, refused, so the grant was stopped," said Azad.
Jiani, however, remarked that half of the patients got well on seeing the chief minister's photo on the ambulance. He had no answer when a scribe said that another half might be falling ill at the sight.
Earlier, principal secretary, health, Vini Mahajan welcomed the union minister on behalf of the state government. District Congress president Sunder Sham Arora was also present on the occasion.