PM says previous govts cared little for healthcare
Varanasi, Siddharthnagar (UP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the previous governments of dragging their feet on healthcare as he launched a nationwide Rs 64,000-crore medical infrastructure mission and nine new medical colleges during his visit to these two Uttar Pradesh cities.
“All this work should have been done decades ago,” he said in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi, where he inaugurated the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission meant to plug gaps in the healthcare system.
He said the mission will also prepare the country to fight future pandemics.
Earlier, he virtually inaugurated nine medical colleges in different districts from Siddharthnagar.
Modi’s trip, following another to Kushinagar last week, marks a concerted BJP campaign in the Purvanchal region of the state, where assembly elections are due early last week. In 2017, the ruling party won 125 of the 164 assembly seats in this region spread over 28 districts.
In Siddharthnagar, Modi picked on the previous Samajwadi Party government in the state — not mentioning Akhilesh Yadav’s party by name but mocking its election symbol, a bicycle.
“Corruption in medicines, ambulances, appointments, transfers and postings. In this entire game, some dynasts in UP flourished,” he charged. “The cycle of corruption ran 24 hours but the ordinary families in Purvanchal and UP got crushed.”
Akhilesh Yadav later claimed that the BJP government was inaugurating new projects as it sensed defeat in the upcoming state elections.
Attacking the earlier governments, the prime minister said in Varanasi, “For those in power before us, the health service was a means to earn money and commit scams.”
The people’s money which earlier went into scams and the coffers of such people is now being used on big projects, he said, adding that the government is planning big and taking an “aggressive approach” on medical infrastructure.
“Those who had been in the government for a long time, kept the healthcare deprived of all-round development. Either there were not enough hospitals in villages, if there were hospitals, the doctors were not there. Testing facilities in blocks were not available,” he said.
He said the new mission will address these shortcomings.
“It will give strength to the health infrastructure of Uttar Pradesh and the country and would also help high-grade preparation for facing pandemics in the future, besides bringing confidence and self-reliance to the health sector.”
The mission target is to strengthen the critical healthcare network in the next four years from the village to the national level. There will be a special focus on the hill states as well as the Northeast.
It aims to develop “a complete ecosystem” from treatment to critical research across the country.
“All this work should have been done decades ago,” the prime minister said. “We have been improving it since the past seven years but now we are working with an aggressive approach and on a big scale.”
He said when this health infrastructure is created, it will also lead to employment opportunities.
“We have seen that when one big hospital is set up, a big city develops around it and it becomes a centre of financial activity. This mission will lead to holistic health care which is available to all and is in the reach of all,” he said.
The PM also inaugurated or laid foundation stones for projects worth around Rs 5,200 crore in his parliamentary constituency.
Had it been for people who were at the helm earlier, Varanasi would have been left to its fate, he said, listing hanging power cables and the state of the roads and the ‘ghats’.
“The heart of Kashi is the same but an honest effort is being made to improve its ambience,” he said, claiming more work has been done in Varanasi in the past seven years than in the previous 70.
The medical colleges inaugurated in the first part of his UP visit have been built at a cost of Rs 2,329 crore. They are located in Siddharthnagar, Etah, Hardoi, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Deoria, Ghazipur, Mirzapur and Jaunpur districts.
Eight of them were sanctioned under a centrally sponsored scheme. The state government funded the one in Jaunpur.
The nationwide medical infrastructure scheme will provide support to 17,788 rural health and wellness centres in 10 high-focus states. Further, 11,024 urban health and wellness centres will be established.
Through this, critical care services will be available in all districts in the country with a population of over five lakh, the government said.
Four new national institutes of virology, a regional research platform for WHO South East Asia Region, nine biosafety level-III laboratories and five new regional centres for disease control will also be set up.