Shimla: In the 17th Annual Conference of North Zone Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine organized by NRHM Himachal and the Department of Community Medicine IGMC, Shimla, Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur said that the State Government is committed to provide basic health care facilities to the people and a vast health infrastructure is been built up in the State along-with other facilities.

He said that the health indicators of Himachal Pradesh were far better than the national average, including birth rate, crude death rate, infant mortality rate, fertility rate and the State had highest levels of institutional deliveries in the country. He said the achievements of the State in family planning were high and encouraging and the State had achieved near elimination stage of leprosy whereas tuberculosis had also been brought under control with more than 88 percent cure rate.

Health Minister said all school going children were being examined mandatorily once in a year through School Health Camp and the process was being expanded to all children registered in the aanganwari centres. The free medical treatment was being given to all children in the age group of 0-18 years under RBSK in case of critical ailments and disability.

Kaul Singh Thakur said that the State had gone in for major expansion of ambulatory services under National Ambulance Scheme and it was the first State in the country to provide for inter facility transfer of critical patients. The State had expanded the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna to cover an additional 1.5 lakh families including MNREGA workers during the current year. He said that Himachal was one of the few States who were providing a cover of Rs. 1.75 lakh in case of critical ailment to all RSBY families.

Health Minister said that the Health budget of the State had been increased by 24 percent over and the efforts were on to provide more facilities to the health institutes up to the village levels. He said that IGMC Shimla was being upgraded at a cost of Rs. 140 crore and a new OPD complex and administrative block would be constructed in the Hospital. A new 100- bedded facility for KNH Shimla at a cost of Rs.16.5 crore and upgradation of Cancer Centre at a cost of Rs. 45 crore was also underway. Besides, efforts were on to make Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda super specialty block functional within this financial year.

Kaul Singh Thakur said that the vacancies of medical officers and para medical staff were being filled up on priority and as many as 142 new medical officers had been deputed during this year alone. Besides, 331 staff nurses, 130 pharmacists, 99 lab. assistants, 30 OTAs, 25 radiographers and 95 health workers and 7750 ASHA workers were being recruited.

Dr. V.M Katoch, Secretary (department of Health Research) and Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi inaugurated the academic session. Principal Secretary, Health Ali R. Rizvi delivered the keynote address and highlighted the various schemes of the Health Department.

The conference is being attended by more than 250 delegates of 26 medical colleges of nine States. The eminent health specialists from India and abroad have been invited as guest speakers and more than 60 papers will be read during the conference.