Ghulam Nabi Azad launches new health initiatives for Assam

Guwahati (Assam), Sept 1 (ANI): Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday launched several new health initiatives worth Rs.500 crores under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for the strengthening of healthcare services in Assam.

The new initiatives are - Free Generic Drug Service, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya karyakram (RBSK), National Iron Plus Initiative, Fleet of 359 New Ambulances for National Ambulance Service.

Ghulam Nabi Azad also inaugurated Mother and Child Tracking System Call Centre and Tele-Radiology Project under NRHM.

He also laid the foundation stone of 14 MCH Wings of various district hospitals which are being constructed at the cost of more than Rs.320 crores to cater to the increased demand of institutional deliveries, and also improve the maternal and child health. These MCHs wings upon becoming functional will provide 1400 additional beds to the health system of Assam.

He said the aim of the UPA Government is to upgrade and strengthen healthcare systems at all levels to provide accessible, equitable and affordable healthcare services across the country.

"More than Rs 96000 crores have been released to the States under NRHM and about 54000 new constructions or renovations of public health facilities have been taken up in the country," he said.

Highlighting the achievements of Assam in health sector, he appreciated the initiative of State Government for taking full advantage of the fund provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to the States under NRHM.

He added that the Assam State Government has utilized more than Rs.5700 crores under NRHM so far and another Rs.1150 crores has been approved for the year 2013-14 to the State.

Azad said that comprehensive infrastructure strengthening has been taken up under NRHM in the State, with thousands of health facilities being constructed or renovated.

"The Health Ministry has sanctioned 3212 new constructions and 2048 renovations, upgradations in the State so far," he said.

"In addition, "Augmentation of human resources is one of cornerstones of our policy under NRHM and we are liberally supporting the States to enhance the availability of human resources in the health institutions at all levels", he added.

He also said that more than 25000 healthcare functionaries which include specialists, doctors, nurses, paramedics and AYUSH professionals have been added to the health systems in the state.

Explaining the importance of Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), Azad said that this unique initiative can lay the foundation of a healthy nation as it signals a leap towards universal health coverage.

He also said that though a school health programmme existed but that was too weak and under-funded to help us realize the goal of securing the health of our children.

"This is what prompted the Health Ministry to come up with a comprehensive and broad-based programme, RBSK that aims to screen 27 crore children upto the age of 18 years across the country for 4 Ds- viz. Diseases, Disabilities, Defects and Disorders," he added.

RBSK was launched by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on 6th February, 2013 from Thane District of Maharashtra.

Azad further said that all expenses on the treatment and management of specified medical conditions of screened children, upto the tertiary level, will be borne by the Union Health Ministry under NRHM. He conveyed confidence that this will lead to improvement in the quality of life enabling all persons to realize their full potential.

Launching a fleet of 359 new 108 Ambulances under National Ambulance Service of NRHM, Azad expressed the hope that this will lend strength to referral and emergency transport facility in the State, adding that 50 Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) have been already funded under NRHM in the State.

He said NRHM has injected about 18000 ambulances into the health system of the country with the aim of expanding the referral and emergency transport services.

Expressing concern over the increased incidence of Japanese Encephalitis in the State, he said that monitoring and supervision of the disease need to be increased.

"Ten endemic Districts have been taken up for JE vaccination programme. JE vaccine has been made part of universal immunization in such Districts. Besides, nine Sentinel Sites for JE diagnosis have been established. Funding has been provided for setting up of 60 bedded Encephalitis Management Ward in Guwahati Medical College," he said.

Azad appealed to the State Government to make concerted effort to bring down Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in the state. (ANI)

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