GUWAHATI, July 9 - The two-day North East Health Care Summit organised by FICCI and Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) here, concluded today with a strong pitch for major public and private sector investments in the healthcare sector in the region to achieve inclusive development.
The summit, which laid major stress on making affordable and accessible world-class healthcare available across the region, also highlighted the need for taking a holistic approach to healthcare, giving equal importance to different alternative and complementary systems of medicine.
The initiative was inaugurated by Lalthanzara, Minister, Health and Family Welfare, Mizoram, along with Ranjit Barthakur, chairman, FICCI, NE Advisory Council; Dr K Srinath Reddy, president, PHFI (through video conferencing), and Jayanto Narayan Choudhury, vice-president PHFI.
Lalthanzara, while lauding the organisers over the summit that highlighted key issues in today�s evolving healthcare scenario pertinent to the northeastern region, lamented that due to lack of financial resources, skilled manpower, tough terrain and quality medical colleges, healthcare has taken a back seat in the region.
�Poor healthcare services in the North East and the need to enhance manpower, including setting up of more medical colleges in the region are the requirement of the day. There is an urgent need to review the progress of schemes sanctioned by the Centre or the NEC towards improvement of healthcare services in the region, especially infrastructure, in addition to finding out better ways and means to remove health problems and inaccessibility to quality healthcare, especially in rural areas of the region,� he said.
He added that at present, only Assam, Tripura and Manipur have been able to set up their own medical colleges, while states like Mizoram, which have been grappling with cancer, are yet to get any medical college.
Speaking at an earlier session, PD Rai, Member of Parliament from Sikkim said that there is an urgent need to engage the corporate sector for enhancing public health and advancing technology in the region, ensuring better reach, quality and coverage of health services.
Dr K Srinath Reddy in his video address, observed that with so much technological and infrastructure advancements, it is time to bring about rapid improvement in the public health indicators, especially in the light of the renewed commitment by the Central government towards speedy achievement of universal health coverage in the North East.
�With a view to complementing various state and national-level health initiatives in this two-day summit, all stakeholders � be it policymakers, industry and health practitioners � will come up with a forward-looking plan to improve the health scenario in the entire region, so that it can become a major healthcare hub for the entire Southeast Asia,� he added.
Ranjit Barthakur in his address, referred to the North East�s potential to become the new growth driver for the Indian economy, �but this can happen only if the population can function to its full potential, unbridled by the burden of diseases.�
�Globally, an average of 2.9 beds are available per 1,000 population. Therefore to even reach anywhere close to the global average, with a population of 45.45 million people, the North East would need over eight lakh additional hospital beds,� he added.
Over 200 delegates, including doctors from the northeastern states, national and regional speakers and stakeholders representing hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical devices companies and others participated in the deliberations.
The summit discussed various problems in the health sector in the North East, including shortage of trained medical manpower, providing access to sparsely populated, remote, far-flung areas, improvement of governance in the health sector, need for improved quality of health services, and making effective and full utilisation of existing resources.
The summit also highlighted the emerging opportunities for healthcare in areas like medical value tourism and alternative and complementary medicine, which aim at mainstreaming AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) systems and revitalisation of local health traditions (LHT) within the policy on medical pluralism currently being implemented in the entire country.