Speaking during the 32nd convocation of Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research in Chennai over video conference, the minister said Covid-19 had turned the clock back by many years, if not decades, derailing efforts of decades. But the novel coronavirus has showcased the contribution of the government sector towards adequate healthcare, he added. He praised frontline health workers, doctors, nurses, technicians, transporters, emergency medical technologies and pharmacists who supported patient care during the pandemic.
Harsh Vardhan said the country should increase doctor-patient ratio from 1:1700 to 1:1000 as per WHO norms, and the number of hospital beds from nine per 10,000 people to 40 per 10,000. The country spends about 4.2% of its GDP on healthcare and services as compared to about 18% by many developed nations.
“This year, we made a substantial increase in our healthcare spend and the finance commission has projected a massive increase in the health outlay in the next five years,” he said. There is also a move to increase the number of medical colleges, almost one per each district, and also the number of medical graduates, he said. In the last one and a half years, the country had approved conversion of 75 district hospitals into government medical colleges, he said.