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Harsh Vardhan makes the right noises before Odisha visit

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, July 18:

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, who is scheduled to arrive in Odisha later this evening on a two-day visit to review the progress of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), today said he expected to have a fruitful discussion with the Odisha government for upgradation of the health sector in the state.

Union Health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan
Union Health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan

“Odisha has done well in keeping the maternal and child death rate low. I want to help keep upgrading its hospital and medical education infrastructure and hope to have fruitful discussions in this regard with the Chief Minister and Health Minister,” said Vardhan before his departure from New Delhi.

The Minister expressed his happiness that the Medical Council of India (MCI) had agreed this week to increase the number of MBBS seats at the SCB Medical College in Cuttack. “I will personally follow up on the issue of non-denial of permission to the ones in MKCG, Berhampore and VSS, Burla,” said a Press Information Bureau (PIB) release quoting the Minister.

The Health Ministry is concerned over the drop in this year’s intake of MBBS aspirants all over India, especially in Odisha which has just one doctor for a population of 1740, the Minister pointed out.

Before leaving New Delhi, he said he would assure the Odisha government of his utmost cooperation in this regard.

It is to be noted that shortly after assuming office, Dr Harsh Vardhan had instructed Ministry officials to begin work on converting five district hospitals of the state into medical college-cum-hospitals. The central government will bear 90 percent of the cost and the remainder will be paid for by the state government.

The five hospitals, all with over 200 beds, are at Puri, Baripada, Koraput, Balasore and Bolangir. They are to have 100-seat medical colleges soon, the Minister announced.

During his visit to Odisha, Vardhan will inspect AIIMS in Bhubaneswar. “It is the most advanced among the six new AIIMS centres which have come up over the past two year. I am thinking of the expansion of its facilities,” he said.

The present capacity of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar is 170 beds, which will be doubled within a month. A special recruitment drive will be conducted shortly for appointment of specialists for the cardiology, nephrology, endocrinology and other departments.

“Funds are not a problem. I will request the state government for additional land adjacent to the present campus,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.