Prime Minister Narendra Modi who gave an account of the interventions made by the Centre to fast-track the State’s development process put particular emphasis on healthcare delivery. Some much-needed healthcare infrastructure has undoubtedly been put in place in the past five years including the ongoing work on six new medical colleges but the healthcare sector in the State has witnessed a positive trend for over a decade now. Be that as it may, it still has miles to go to catch up with the advanced States and the welcome trend in terms of healthcare infrastructure creation and streamlining of service delivery needs to be sustained. Among the new medical colleges that are to come up, those at Biswanath and Charaideo will also be able to cater to the needs of the people of Arunachal Pradesh besides northern and upper Assam. Shortage of doctors has been a perennial constraint in delivery of healthcare services and once the new medical colleges start functioning, 1,600 new doctors will come out every year. Shortage of doctors and paramedics has particularly hit medical care in interior and rural areas and the creation of a large pool of manpower will improve healthcare in those areas. The ongoing work on the AIIMS in the State – expected to be completed in the next two years — has been another much-awaited project that can effect sweeping changes in the region’s healthcare scenario. The launching of several schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, which has enrolled over 350 hospitals under it, has been another critical healthcare intervention, benefiting lakhs of families.
The Prime Minister also mentioned his dream of imparting medical and technical education in mother tongue but teaching of these segments in the vernacular could adversely affect the system. Higher, especially technical education, is best pursued in English, as it opens up a far better scope of accessing the latest technological advancements taking place in these spheres. Since we already have a robust system of technical education in English, creating a parallel vernacular medium could create two distinct classes of functionaries. In such an eventuality, those who had used English medium will remain an advantaged lot compared to their counterparts in the vernacular. It is also apparent that people will repose their trust more in the former. We have an Ayurvedic and other traditional systems of medicine and teaching in these streams can be done both in English and vernacular depending on the preference of the prospective practitioners. Rural healthcare has been another neglected area requiring urgent intervention. To ensure that healthcare embraces each and every citizen, a lot needs to be done on this front. For long, rural healthcare delivery in particular has been handicapped by the absence of matching health infrastructure and manpower. Often, it is the lack of healthcare infrastructure that explains the doctors’ abhorrence for practice in rural areas. It is imprudent to expect doctors to perform miracles without the requisite infrastructure and amenities at their disposal.