Vellore: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday stressed the need to reform medical education and create room for more colleges and medical graduates to increase the number of healthcare professionals in the country.
In his address at the centenary celebrations of ‘Medical Education Programme of Christian Medical College’ here, Kovind said the country was experiencing a “transition”, which is associated with multiple challenges in disease control that have to be managed simultaneously. While India has a total of 1.47 million undergraduate engineering seats, there were only 67,352 such medical seats, he said, pointing out that 20 per cent of those medical seats were added in the past four years.
“As a country and a system, we need to address this gap quickly”, the President said, stressing that there “is urgent need to do this... and to reform medical education so as to create room for more colleges and more medical graduates”.
The President, on a two-day official visit to Tamil Nadu, said “countries go through epidemiological transitions” as societies evolve, economies develop and population patterns change. India, too, was experiencing such a transition; marked by three challenges in disease control which have to be managed simultaneously.
First, India has to reduce maternal and infant mortality as well as communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, vector-borne diseases like malaria, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoeal diseases, and vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and tetanus, President Kovind said.
Further, the country has to “find an answer” to the rise in non-communicable or lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers. “And finally, we need to develop systems to detect and cope with new and re-emerging infectious diseases like HIV, avian flu and H1N1 influenza,” he said.
In a globalised world, with people travelling in and out of India in larger numbers, “a few small cases can very quickly scale up into a large outbreak,” he added.
“Despite the strides we have taken as a country, there remain regional, rural-urban and gender and community imbalances in terms of health provision,” he said. “Without adequately addressing these, we cannot rest,” Kovind said.
The President lauded the CMC, saying it ranked third among all medical colleges in India as per the Human Resource Development Ministry. He also recalled the contributions of CMC founder, Ida Sophia Scudder, saying she devoted her life to improving healthcare in India during the early 20th century when diseases like “cholera, smallpox and polio” and “several epidemics and diseases were rampant.”
Governor Banwarilal Purohit in his address lauded the CMC for its rare honour of completing 100 years of service in medical care. “Our Indian civilization which has flourished over more than 5000 years can justifiably lay claim to have held aloft the noble values of kindness and compassion.
In that respect the Christian Medical College represents a microcosm of Indian civilization”, he said. Referring to Tamil Nadu’s prime position in the healthcare sector in India, the Governor pointed out that private sector too had played a vital role for several decades in the state by establishing hospitals “with the first entry having been made by the CMC”.
The CMC, he said, “is a model in medical education, research and treatment for the whole country” as the hospital’s services to the local community particularly the poor and underprivileged groups, “have brought immeasurable recognition and admiration to the institution”....