After being appointed as the Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan had promised to take health facilities to each and every person. Dainik Jagran, in conversation with Harsh Vardhan, tried to know about the government’s plans in this regard.

Here are the excerpts:

Q: Making health facilities accessible to everyone is an uphill task. How will you accomplish it?

A: Being a doctor, I understand the importance of protecting people from diseases. Treatment is necessary but we will also focus on prevention. We will start a campaign on health-related issues. All the government departments along with common man will be made part of this campaign. Traditional procedures like yoga and ayurvedic medicines will also be taken to new pedestal. There is also a need of encouraging research in modern treatment procedures. We need to focus on eradication of many diseases as so far, we have been able to control only smallpox and polio.

Q: But how will you accomplish such a big task?

A: Researches have proved that about 40-45 percent of diseases are caused due to body’s inactiveness. We will make people aware about the benefits of physical exercise and healthy lifestyle.

Q: Will government increase its expenditure on important issue like health?

A: It’s true that at present, the government is only spending 1-1.5 percent of nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). This is not only a very less amount but also insufficient when compared to other nations. You will be surprised to know that only 3 percent of the GDP was spent on health during the first five-year plan while it was 3.3 percent during the second five-year plan. Former prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had constituted Bhore Committee which recommended to increase the health expenditure upto 10-12 percent but it did not happen. This clearly indicates that there is an immediate need of improving things related to health expenditure. But the government will have to also take a stock that how much is available in its coffer.

Though we will try to increase the budget for it but the more important thing is that how the amount would be spent for this purpose. We will ensure that not a single penny allocated for this purpose gets wasted.  

Q: Your campaign against tobacco has been quite old…

A: According to me, a government spends more money on treatment of diseases which gets triggered by consumption of tobacco than the revenue generated by it. But we can control the sale of tobacco by making people aware about its harmful effect and by raising taxes on the tobacco products.

Mukesh Kejriwal/JPN

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