Medical expenses plunge 4 crore into poverty each year: President
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President Pranab Mukherjee urged the faculty and students of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to work on the "singular goal" of trying to make the institute one of the ten best medical universities in the world by 2020.
Addressing the 40th Annual Convocation of AIIMS on Tuesday, Mukherjee called upon the institute to pioneer medical research to make healthcare affordable in the country.
"I am deeply concerned about the impoverishing impact of health and medical expenses on the vulnerable sections of our society. It is unacceptable that almost 80 per cent of the expenditure on healthcare by our people is met by personal, out-of-pocket payment. I am shocked to note that as many as 4 crore people in our country plunge into poverty each year due to expenses on medical treatment," Mukherjee said.
He said health services for the poor cannot be "poor health services". "We need to craft a high quality national health system that is used by the poor and the rich alike."
Mukherjee said the new challenges in the country's health sector were opportunities for the institute to contribute towards nation building.
"Time has come for India to aim at attaining universal health coverage within the next two to three Plan periods. Excellence should not be confined to Delhi. It must touch the hearts of the millions all over the country who are still struggling for equitable access to quality healthcare," the President said.
"Research work at AIIMS must not only be acclaimed by the academia, but also benefit the public at large. We need to take health services closer to the homes of families — even a primary health centre is too far by today's standards and needs," Mukherjee said.
Addressing the graduating students, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said AIIMS was initially conceived and founded to produce faculty, undertake research and serve as a referral institute.
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