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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Ensuring health for all people: Balanced development in health care and services is the key issue

Author(s): Plianbangchang Samlee

Vol. 32, No. 2 (2007-04 - 2007-06)

Plianbangchang Samlee
WHO, South-East Asia, Lecture delivered at the 34th National Conference of Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
Date of Submission 12-Mar-2007

Correspondence Address:
Plianbangchang Samlee
WHO, South-East Asia, Lecture delivered at the 34th National Conference of Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi
India

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
How to cite this article:
Plianbangchang S. Ensuring health for all people: Balanced development in health care and services is the key issue. Indian J Community Med 2007;32:101-2
How to cite this URL:
Plianbangchang S. Ensuring health for all people: Balanced development in health care and services is the key issue. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2007 [cited 2007 Nov 30];32:101-2. Available from: http://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2007/32/2/101/35644

Dr. T. S. R. Sai, President, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine; Dr Chandrakant S. Pandav, Chairman, Organizing Committee; Dr. P. Venugopal, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences; Dr. Cecilio Adorna, UNICEF Representative, India Country Office; Dr. Rajesh Kumar, Secretary General, IAPSM; Dr. Bir Singh, Organizing Secretary; Distinguished participants; Ladies and gentlemen:

I am privileged and honored to deliver the inaugural address at this important national conference. The Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine must be congratulated for organizing this Conference, which will significantly contribute to the attainment of "India's Vision 2020: Strengthening Public Health-translating ideas into action"; this is the theme of this conference.

Taking into account, the level of development in India today, the theme of the Conference is timely indeed. I am sure India can become a developed nation by the year 2020 as envisioned by His Excellency Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India. Certainly, India has the potential, especially, in the areas of know-how and human resources to move forward to that level of development by 2020. Only health security for the entire population has to be the overriding concern in the process of national development. Good health for all citizens has to be ensured throughout such a process.

The process places special emphasis on health development in the community and at grassroot level. The process gives priority to the health of the poor, under privileged, marginalized, and the vulnerable. The process ensures reaching the unreached in all localities in the country. It is universally accepted that health is at the center of national socio-economic development; and health for all can lead to poverty reduction in any country. Therefore, good health for all is an important requisite for the progress of any nation.

Today, balanced development in health care and services to ensure health for all people is the key issue in the development process. This is especially so in the developing world, where a large segment of the population is poor, underprivileged, deprived, marginalized, and vulnerable. Balanced development in this context means more efforts and more resources to be invested at community and grassroots levels. It is the development that gives adequate attention to primary care, focusing on health risks and health determinants. Development should attempt to keep people healthy through health promotion and prevent people from becoming sick through disease control and prevention. These are cost-effective interventions to reduce the disease burden in the community and in the entire population.

Primary prevention in health is one of the cost-effective strategies to reduce poverty in any community in developing countries. Since long, our health care services have been concentrated in areas of secondary care. The secondary care places emphasis on treating the sick, especially in the medical institutions. Our health systems have, therefore, been over oriented toward curative and rehabilitative services; at the cost of promoting and preventive care.

To shift the emphasis from disease-based health services to risk and determinant-based health systems is really a formidable task. However, for our future efforts in health development for good health for all, this is a challenge indeed. As a prerequisite, we need to have the right workforce to engineer health systems toward the desired direction. To move efficiently along this course of primary prevention, we need a public health and community-based health workforce. The workforce should be able to effectively develop and implement public health programs. The programs should deal primarily with health promotion, disease control, and prevention. The programs should include health care for the public at any location. We need the workforce that can mobilize people from all walks of life and involve them in the movement for health for all. The workforce should ensure reaching the unreached. Within this context, I would like to emphasize on the critical role of community-based health workers. The health workers are those who work at the grassroot, rendering services to the poor, underprivileged, marginalized, and vulnerable. The workforce should be able to reach the unreached at any corner of the country. Community-based health workers are important and can greatly contribute to the reduction of sickness and disease burden in the community.

To ensure balanced development in health care and services, we need to pay special attention to the public health workforce. The workforce should also include community-based health workers. We need to reorient our strategy in the development of human resources for health in this new direction. To be able to do this successfully, we need strong and sustained political commitment and support. As a requisite for this change, we need unwavering and long-term policy and strategy back-up at the national level. With regard to this, I am very happy to see that the Government of India has a clear policy direction to move forward towards public health and community health development. The Rural Health Mission and Public Health Foundation are a clear evidence of the Government's intention and commitment in this regard.

The Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine can play an important role in this challenging task. The Association can help in strengthening and reorienting health infrastructures in community and at grassroot level. This is to ensure that the health systems are based on the primary health care approach. The Department of Preventive and Social Medicine or Department of Community Health in medical colleges throughout the country can play a critical role in the production of public health professionals and practitioners. They can also contribute in a big way in the development of community-based health workers. With the current government health policy, Preventive and Social Medicine can make an important contribution to the achievement of India's Vision 2020.

WHO has placed emphasis on its collaboration with the Government of India on development in the public health area. We are also ready to collaborate with any organization or institution that is involved in the development of public health workforce and community-based health workers.

Once again, I sincerely congratulate the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine for organizing this important National Conference. In the course of this meeting, I am sure many new ideas will be generated. I am also confident that these useful ideas will be "translated into actions" without delay. Finally, I wish the distinguished participants all success in their deliberations. And, I wish the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine all the best in its endeavors toward health for all through public and primary health care approach.

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