Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said the UPA Government is committed to achieving the objective of "health for all" through accessible, affordable and equitable healthcare services.
Launching a new health initiative "Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram" here, Gandhi said: "The Congress party has always strived to be the vehicle of empowerment of the people especially the marginalized sections of the society to see everybody's dreams fulfilled through inclusive development.
"Under the National Rural Health Mission, several new initiatives have been taken, particularly to improve maternal and child health. Over Rs. 90,000 crores has been released to the states for strengthening health systems. Despite tremendous improvements in health indicators, about 15 lakh children die before their fifth birthday every year. Many more suffer from debilitating diseases affecting their growth and quality of life," she added.
Asserting that India accounted for more than half of the global burden of polio in 2009, Gandhi further said: " With intensive effort and resolute political will, India has remained polio free for more than two years now. Over 23 lakh volunteers under 1.7 lakh supervisors administer polio drops to about 17 crore children in one nation-wide round, which is the largest exercise in the world."
" There are 8.80 lakh ASHAs acting as a strong interface between the health system and the community. UPA 1 introduced Janani Suraksha Yojana in 2005 to encourage institutional deliveries by giving cash assistance to pregnant women as incentives. Building on the success of the JSY scheme, Janani Shishu Suraksha karyakram was launched in 2011 to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for both pregnant women and sick neonates," she said.
"Under this scheme, every pregnant woman is entitled to absolutely free delivery, including caesarean section, in public health institutions now. Besides the free ante-natal and post-natal check-ups, the scheme provides for free diagnostics, free medicines, free consumables, free food during hospital stay, free caesarean section and free blood, if required and free transport to health facility and drop back home,' she added.
Gandhi said Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) has been put in place to reach out to every pregnant woman for proper care during pregnancy and to every child for proper vaccination.
Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Sonia Gandhi has been always at the forefront in areas of public health, whether it is the flagging off the Red Ribbon Express to spread awareness against HIV/AIDS or the launch of the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram to provide cashless healthcare to pregnant women and sick newborns during institutional deliveries.
"We are indeed privileged to have her with us at the National Launch of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram today. Continuum of care extending over different phases of the life over the first 18 years would improve the quality of life of children in our country, "Azad added.
The programme is an initiative of the National Rural Health Mission of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
The objective is to improve the overall quality of life of children through early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays, including disability.(ANI)