“I want to see AIIMS Bhubaneswar develop into the most modern hospital in India, bigger and better than AIIMS Delhi,” Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, told reporters in the Odisha capital today. He went on to make ten significant announcements which underscore the government’s commitment. These are:
*An integrated treatment facility for patients combining AYUSH and allopathic medication and techniques.
*A 100-bed, super-speciality Mental Health and Neurosciences Centre.
*A 100-bed super-speciality Nephrology Centre with dialysis and kidney transplant facilities.
*A Cancer Super-Speciality centre, with 100 beds.
*Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, another 100-bed super-speciality facility.
*A brand new Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.
*A Department of Geriatric Medicine.
*AIIMS Bhubaneswar’s ‘satellite’ in Balasore to be a 300-bed multi-speciality hospital. It is coming up on a 25 acre plot provided by the state government.
* Balasore unit to have on its campus a School of International Public Health in collaboration with a reputed overseas institution.
*All BSc (Nursing) students at AIIMS Bhubaneswar to henceforth receive a monthly stipend of Rs 500.
The Health Minister spent over an hour inspecting the out and in-patient departments of AIIMS. He made it a point to look into minute details. His attention moved to the registration slips which are routinely handed out to new patients and he noted that the health advice printed on them were not of much value. So he recommended that every 15 days a new message should be printed. This way, he suggested to Dr A.K. Mahapatra, the Director of AIIMS Bhubaneswar and the senior officials by his side, there could be greater awareness generation of the simple truisms of healthy living.
The Bhubaneswar AIIMS, much like the five others set up recently, is suffering a serious shortage of faculty and non-faculty staff. Dr Harsh Vardhan announced the clearing of decks for a recruitment drive beginning August 1.
“We have only 65 filled faculty positions in each AIIMS at the present time, a shortfall of 250. So I have decided to hire on contractual basis for the first two years because we need to get the facilities functional fast,” he told reporters.
About recruitment to faculty and non-faculty positions, the Minister said he has decided to give the Director of each of the AIIMS the authority to chair selection committee meetings. The system of getting officials from other Institutions to chair the interview sessions has, effectively, been discontinued.
In the afternoon the Health Minister spend some time with the students and inspected their living quarters. He noted that large neon signs were necessary on the exterior of the hospital.
Meeting with the CM
Dr Harsh Vardhan called on the Chief Minister of Odisha, Sh Naveen Patnaik, at the state secretariat, and assured him that the project to build a regional geriatric centre on the campus of SCB Medical College at Cuttack is pending before the union cabinet.
He was responding to Sh Patnaik’s specific suggestions for more health ministry projects in the state. These included a proposal for a Regional Institute of Paramedical Science (RIPS: for which the state government has given 10 acres), a branch of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bhubaneswar, an outlay of Rs 530 crore for expanding the MBBS intake by 100 seats in each of the three Government medical colleges and establishing more Graduate Nursing Midwife and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife schools.
Dr Harsh Vardhan assured Sh Patnaik that cost revision is underway for the RIPS proposal. When he pointed out that it has already been decided to have a mental health super-speciality centre within AIIMS Bhubaneswar, the Chief Minister expressed his satisfaction.
On the financial outlay question, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the earmarked funds would be released in a phased manner. Since the Medical Council of India is yet to approve the increase in MBBS seats at two of the three medical colleges, the money for only the Cuttack College would be available at the present time, he said.
Earlier, at a meeting with Sh Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, the Health Minister of Odisha, Dr Harsh Vardhan said he would soon summon a meeting of the Central Council of Health (CCH) for building up a strategy for eradicating preventable diseases and achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals before the due date of September 2015.
“We must make Health for All a social movement and in this we should imbibe all NGOs, private sector companies and religious organisations,” he told Sh Rout. The principal secretary (Health), Sh Pradeepta Kumar Mahapatra, was present on the occasion.
The Union Minister said he was happy with Odisha’s success in immunisation, which is now 80 percent. However, a higher goal of 95 percent should be set for the near future, he remarked.
Dr Harsh Vardhan began the day with a visit to the historic Lingaraja Temple. He also spent some time in the idyllic Ekamravan herbal garden by the Bindusagar lake adjacent to the temple. He is scheduled to visit Puri later in the day.