‘Obesity and malnutrition are substantial public health issues’

Today, Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India, graced and addressed the 45 th convocation of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, he said, it is for you to ensure that healthcare indices for the entire population reach acceptable levels during our lifetime. This is how the battle against polio, and earlier smallpox, was fought and won. Those victories must inspire us and spur us to a healthier India in all its dimensions

President AIIMS

  • Pointing out the shortage of doctors in our country, the President said that doctors need help in the form of more colleagues. And this is where we need a new regulatory system to enhance availability of doctors and medical professionals in our society. In the absence of this, the work-load on our doctors is very high.
  • The President said that currently our medical colleges, whether run by the government or private institutions, have only about 67,000 undergraduate seats and 31,000 postgraduate seats. In a country of 1.3 billion people this is highly inadequate. We have to overcome regulatory bottlenecks and interest groups that have prevented the growth of quality medical education in our country. We need to create more opportunities for those young people who want to make medicine their calling.
  • In our country, both obesity and malnutrition are substantial public health issues. We have a very large child population as well as one of the world’s largest populations of senior people. Both these groups pose different but real challenges to our healthcare system and our doctors and nurses.
  • Whether in the government or the private sector; whether at the grassroots, in the form of our dedicated ASHA workers and ANMs, or by specialists in leading referral hospitals such as AIIMS. The use of technology and the adoption of telemedicine, at least for diagnosis, will also go a long way in taking healthcare to those who need it most.

The president stated, a key role in meeting our health challenges is played by our very vigilant and very skilled nurses and paramedics. Their sense of duty and compassion has made Indian nurses – both women and men – among the most outstanding professionals in our country, across all fields. In this context, I must make a special mention of the nursing students who are graduating today. Congratulations to all of you.

He added, “India is a country of paradoxes.Traditional challenges such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and TB – along with maternal and child mortality figures that are improving but are still worrying – are a concern. On the other hand, noncommunicable diseases and what are called lifestyle diseases are emerging as big killers. These could be related to the heart or to the brain, as well as to a host of cancers and pollution sources that we are increasingly exposed to.”