Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ghulam Nabi Azad takes over as Health Minister


Ghulam Nabi Azad, took over as Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare May 29, 2009. Terming his new assignment as an opportunity to serve even the most deprived section of society, Azad emphasized implementation of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)‘in letter and spirit’ as his first priority. He said that UPA Government has undertaken many major programmes which were long awaited by the people of India such as NREGA, Rural Road Connectivity, Highways and Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. National Rural Health Mission is one such programme, which is playing a major role in improving the health status of over one billion people in India. This has addressed a long-standing grievance of non-existing rural health infrastructure. ‘It is not possible to implement NRHM just by sitting in the Ministry, therefore I have decided to take a half yearly review of the programme with all the State Governments so that Mission is implemented fully,’ Azad said.

The new Health Minister said that National Urban Health Mission will be vigorously pursued and will be soon implemented after approval by the Cabinet. Underlining the importance of the Mission, Azad said that urban population is increasing very fast and urban health care infrastructure is not able to cope with growing demand.

The Minister also pointed out the initiative of strengthening six new AIIMS and up-gradation of 13 state medical institutions under the first phase of PMSSY. Two more AIIMS like institutes and upgradation of six state medical institutions will be taken up in the phase II. Referring to the new diseases, which have emerged in the recent times, Azad said that production of new vaccines will be a priority area. India needs to be independent in this crucial sector as these new diseases are a major danger in the light of large population and paucity of health infrastructure, the Minister said.

The Minister also counted early detection of non-communicable diseases, establishment of a drug authority, promotion of ayurveda, AIDS prevention and strengthening of health research as his chief priorities.

On a question regarding AIIMS the Minister said that supremacy of institutions is sacrosanct in the authority of institutions will not be allowed to be diluted.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Dinesh Trivedi also took over the charge. Both the Ministers were later briefed by the senior officers of the Ministry.