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Speech of Hon. Minister for Health (Kerala) on the 214th Central Working Committee (CWC) of IMA on 20.09.2015

Dr. A. Marthanda Pillai, President, Indian Medical Association; Dr Sreejith N Kumar, President, IMA Kerala Chapter; eminent panellists, friends from IMA fraternity.

It gives me great pleasure to address delegates of the 214th Central Working Committee of Indian Medical Association.

It’s worth mentioning the role of IMA played in the history of patient care in our country since 1928. IMA serves the humanity by endeavouring to achieve the highest standards in medical education, medical ethics and care. With over 2.5 Lakh doctors as members, IMA is the largest scientific NGO in the world. I hope this two day working committee, attended by IMA leaders across the country and office bearers of all states, must have discussed matters concerning National health policy, better public health, quality patient care and comprehensive medical practice.

In Kerala the “Patient Care Fund” launched by IMA to provide free treatment and financial assistance to the less privileged in our society is a commendable step towards equity medical care.

The “National Initiative for Safe Sound”, launched by IMA Kerala chapter last year provided awareness to people about the implications of constant exposure to high decibel levels at home and public places .

“Adoption of Villages and Schools” by IMA is also significant step in towards social responsibility.

Standing here today, I must acknowledge with pride the healthcare excellence Kerala has achieved since 1956. As you all are aware, undoubtedly Kerala now has the best health indices among the Indian states comparable to developed nations. The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is 12 compared to the national average of 44; Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is 61 as against the national average of 176. The average life expectancy of our women is 76.4 in comparison with the national life expectancy of 64.2. Another stark highlight is our Institutional delivery rate of 99.5 % as against the national average of 40.7%.

Our Government headed by our Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy has substantially increased the allocation to health sector. Plan allocation for Health Department has gone up to 665 crores in 2015-16 from 250 crores in 2010-11. This Government has created nearly 4,500 new posts in Health department which includes nearly 1,100 posts of doctors alone in the last four years. Kerala model healthcare is praised all over the world for its high level of achievement with very low investment.

The peculiarity of Kerala, reflected in good indices in health with low per capita income, has led to the formation of a different path of development

Our government is committed to deliver quality healthcare at zero cost. We have evolved a total life span approach in designing our health care programmes.

We have the Janani Sishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK) for pregnant women and newborn babies. For the newborn, we have the procedure of screening them for genetic and metabolic disorders and for the benefit of our 46 lakh school children we have introduced the School health programme.

For the age group from 30-60 we have free lifestyle diseases screening and treatment programme.

We have successfully introduced the Palliative care programme and the geriatric care programme in all the Panchayats.

Thus, the entire life span of an individual is covered through our novel healthcare initiatives.

Recently Kerala has been awarded as the “Best Child friendly state” in the country for our newborn screening programme. Also we have ranked first in the OP and surgical care this year. The increase of OP & IP numbers in the government hospitals in the last three years indicates the quality improvement of standard of patient care in these institutions.

To reduce the out-of-the-pocket expenditure our Govt. has rolled out the Free Generic Medicine scheme to all patients irrespective of income levels from medical colleges to sub centers. Nearly 1000 crore has been spent in the last four years for this.

Ours is the only state in the country which provides free medical treatment for all diseases to children below the age of 18 years through “Arogya Kiranam” scheme.

Cancer is the single largest disease threat in Kerala and around fifty thousand new cases are detected in Kerala every year.

I am very much delighted to inform you that we have also launched an ambitious programme “Sukritham” which provides free cancer diagnosis, treatment and medicines in selected Government health institutions for around 35 lakhs households.

We have also started four new medical colleges in Govt. sector in the last 3 years, after a gap of 30 years. Out of this 3 are in high focus districts. This enables children of low income group to pursue medical education and also offer specialty care to people of remote areas.

As you all are aware today healthcare delivery system face new challenges which need new solutions. Quality healthcare at affordable cost is the prime thing the patients look for standardization of quality benefits all stake holders. Patients are the biggest beneficiary in this as they get high quality care and patient safety. Our Government is keen to implement quality patient care in all hospitals across the state, currently there are 7 NABH accredited Government institutions in Kerala. Electronic recording of health data is a vital part of effective and efficient healthcare system.

Our Govt have embarked in to an ambitious 100 crore e-health programme which will be launched in 7 districts of Kerala in early next year. This, first of-its-kind e-health initiative in the entire country, envisages a central data server which would have all health and demographic data of the population and which would be linked to the HMIS (Health Management Information System) projects of all health institutions in the State, right down to the level of sub-centres.


Having said this, I must also admit with concern that the current public Health Scenario of Kerala, faced by twin challenges of 6 emerging and remerging communicable and non communicable diseases. Outbreaks of vector borne communicable diseases like bird fever, dengue fever, Leptospirosis are major issues during monsoon. We were able to address these issues of communicable diseases more effectively in the last two years due to the meticulous planning involving intersectoral convergence involving LSGI’s.


As a result the morbidity rates from these communicable diseases have come down considerably compared to the last decade. The transition from an era of communicable diseases to an era of lifestyle diseases, which is driven by economic growth, urbanization and our changing food habits, is now a matter of great concern.


The state is fast emerging as the “lifestyle diseases capital” of India with the prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and heart diseases reaching levels comparable to those in the west. Thus Kerala turned to a low mortality, high morbidity state, which in turn necessitates high out- of- the-pocket -expenditure for common man.

The incidence of Diphtheria in few areas of northern Kerala is matter of grave concern. We will soon launch a plan of action titled “Total Immunization Campaign Kerala” (TICK) to cover the unimmunized and partial immunized children in the state. IMA’s guidance and involvement in Vaccine advocacy is being highly appreciated by the Govt and community.

Friends Doctors are noble people who are involved in a noble profession. The primary concern of doctors is the welfare and care of their patients. Similarly, as doctors you would be aware of the high level of faith and trust reposed on you. Patients look to you with hope and expectation. You must always work to keep up this trust. You are an integral part of society and, therefore, must live up to the expectations of society at large and society in turn also respects you.

 I conclude with wishing the IMA Central Working Committee success in bringing out affordable solutions to the concerns and challenges related to disease management. Also IMA fraternity should share new insights in medicare, find new cures, prevent disease and assist the patients to live longer, healthier, happier and productive lives

Thank you. Jai Hind.

V S Sivakumar
Minister of Health