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President Pranab Mukherjee concerned over low expenditure on health



Updated On - Wednesday, 11 September 2013

10 September 2013

NEW DELHI: With government spending on health less than two per cent of GDP,President Pranab Mukherjee today expressed concern over the low expenditure and advocated universal healthcare as a plausible solution. 

Inaugurating a meeting of Ministers of Health and a Session of WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee noted with concern that 46 per cent people in the region lived below poverty line and asked nations to build an environment for quality health. 

"It is also a matter of concern that South East Asia Region registers the lowest total expenditure on health as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (3.8 pc) and per capita total expenditure on health as per World Health Statistics 2009," he said. 

As per WHO, India's total expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP in 2011 is 3.9 per cent. But, government spending on health is less than 2 per cent of GDP and the total came to 3.9 per cent after including private spending. 

The President said countries need to strengthen health systems based on primary health care approach while focusing on public health based on domestic resources. He also sought strategic investments in medical education and training and said existing inefficiencies in supply chain and logistic management of drugs and vaccines be addressed. 

Noting with concern the growing incidence of NCDs like hypertension among youth, Mukherjee called for steps to check the trend, as also to make serious efforts to adopt a holistic approach to promote healthy ageing in the region. 

"An ideal health care delivery system should be accessible to all in the region. Considering the current lack of access to quality healthcare at an affordable cost for the majority of the population in the region, the proposed universal health coverage seems to be a very plausible solution," he said. 

With around 7.9 million dying every year due to non- communicable diseases, accounting for 55 per cent of all deaths in WHO's South East Asia Region, the Health Ministers adopted the 'New Delhi Declaration on High Blood Pressure'. 

India is part of WHO's SE Asia Region comprising 11 countries. 

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad urged SEARO countries to join hands to develop and share initiatives and technologies to achieve the common goal of providing affordable and accessible health care to people in the region.

Published by: The Economic Times

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