Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) newly appointed Preisident, Dr A Marthanda Pillai, announced that the focus of his team for the next two years would be to impart training to develop soft skills of doctors and fight corruption by evolving IMA’s own code of conduct. “My message to all the 2.9 lakh members of this institution is that we need to share our diverse perspectives and experiences and take full advantage of opportunities to innovate and improve care for our patients and the communities we are privileged to serve”, he said
Dr Pillai further said, the IMA would ensure that healthcare services were made a fundamental right. He lamented that India lagged far behind in providing public access to even basic services like safe drinking water, sanitation and nutrition and clean water, forget about secondary and tertiary healthcare.
Further during the IMA NATCON 2014, at Gujarat University Convention Centre, which coincided with 89th national conference of the IMA, Pillai said that 2.5 lakh doctors would be trained in soft skills in two years by IMA. Earlier, the central council of IMA approved the list of office-bearers for 2015-16.
Pillai said his future plans for the IMA included issues related to health financing, private-public financing, addition of more medial seats, revision of medical education curriculum, protection of doctors from false charges and convincing them to go to rural areas for medical practice.
He said the current level of healthcare spending of 1.23 percent of GDP should be increased to 8 percent by 2015.
“IMA takes strong exception to the fact that even the current expenditure had been brought down by Rs 6,600 crore this year. The government should see that a minimum of 55 percent of national healthcare budget is spent on primary care, 35 percent on secondary care and 10 percent on tertiary care against the current levels of 49 percent, 22 percent and 28 percent respectively,” he said. For resource mobilisation, Pillai has suggested to levy health cess of 0.5 percent of VAT on tobacco, alcohol and even on high-fat, and high-salt food products.
Moreover, to curb high spending on drugs (70 per cent), he suggested that there should be a national drug distribution system in place. On doctor-population ratio, he said that against the world figure of 1:650, India had a ratio of 1:1700, which should be at least 1:1000.
He also pointed out the “miserable failure” of national health policy to define roles and responsibilities of the private sector despite private sector share being 60 per cent in private-public partnerships, Pillai said they (public and private sectors) were being run parallel to each other instead of being complementary. He said health insurance was not the panacea for public health financing and sole dependence on it would only make healthcare more expensive and less accessible.
To address this, Pillai said, the government should invest directly in starting medical colleges and introduce common syllabi besides updating admission system, regular and periodic revision of syllabi. For all this, “a medical grants commission” should be set up on the lines of the University Grants Commission (UGC), Pillai added.
He demanded that health impact assessment should be made mandatory for clearance of any industrial projects like mandatory environmental impact assessment clearance.