New Delhi; 22 March : Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla addressed members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in New Delhi, today.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Birla thanked doctors and Corona Warriors for their selfless services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Appreciating the work of scientists during the pandemic, Shri Birla said that the discovery of COVID-19 vaccines brought humanity out of those difficult times and led to success. India made all out efforts to turn disaster into opportunity and won the war against Corona with collective efforts and cooperation.

On the health sector, Shri Birla observed that in the last few years several important steps have been taken towards providing Universal Health Coverage. The Comprehensive National Health Policy of 2017 is a major step towards ensuring universal access to high quality health services, stressed Shri Birla.

Shri Birla emphasized that every citizen deserves affordable and accessible, high quality healthcare and the nation is moving fast in this direction. He expressed happiness that in the recent past, there has been phenomenal progress in healthcare in terms of various health indicators. Whether it is easy access to health services, reduction in the costs, or investment and capacity building and upgrade of health services infrastructure, there have been positive changes in every sector. Mentioning the doctor-population ratio, Shri Birla informed that today, while there are more than 13 lakh allopathic doctors in the country, there are more than 5.5 lakh AYUSH doctors. As a result, India’s Doctor-Population ratio is now 1:834 which is better than the WHO norm of 1:1000. Referring to the improvements in health infrastructure, Shri Birla said that whether it is approval for setting up 22 new AIIMS in the country, upgrade of district and referral hospitals to build new medical colleges, or expanding AYUSH services, the nation is making a difference in health. Welfare approach has been adopted as a long-term vision in the field of health care for all. This year’s Union Budget also reflects the same vision, observed Shri Birla.

Referring to Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, Shri Birla said that in the last 75 years, the country faced several challenges even with limited resources after independence, but it has improved over the period of time. Earlier we used to cater to our own needs but now we provide medical services to countries around the world, mentioned Shri Birla. India’s supply of vaccines to countries around the world to prevent the COVID pandemic is a living example of this approach. India’s victory over polio has proved that our willpower can subdue the mightiest challenges, added Shri Birla. He emphasized that only new research and new measures in the field of medical science can save humanity from serious diseases.

Mentioning about traditional systems of medicine in this context, Shri Birla said that traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy have an important role to play in meeting our primary health care needs. Today India’s ancient tradition of Yoga is a mass movement. Yoga has got momentum and its health benefits are being acknowledged and adopted globally, said Shri Birla. Referring to ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’; ‘Ujjwala Yojana’, ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’, ‘Poshan Abhiyaan’, ‘Mission Indradhanush’, ‘Jan Aushadhi Kendra’ and Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Shri Birla opined that all these schemes have proven to be a milestone towards keeping the humanity healthy.

On the role of public representatives in providing accessible and quality health services to the people, Shri Birla suggested that public representatives should be included in the action plan for providing health services to people. They will help in educating people on health issues and solving health related challenges of the people. In this context, he informed that the initiatives taken by the parliamentarians during COVID have been compiled in the form of a booklet titled ‘Innovations and Best Practices during COVID-19 Pandemic (2020-21)’. The booklet covers best practices and new approaches to contact people in the face of the pandemic. It includes the exemplary work done by over 100 MPs during the pandemic, informed Shri Birla.