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Rural Health Mission launch next week

By Our Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI, APRIL 7. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) that aims to provide effective health care to the entire rural population will be launched on April 12.

The Mission focuses on 18 States having weak public health indicators. Announcing this here today at the release of the World Health Report 2005, the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, A. Ramadoss, said the Mission document had been evolved under the guidance of the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and the National Advisory Council chairperson, Sonia Gandhi.

"Accredited Social Health Activists"

The Mission will cover all the villages in these 18 States through approximately 2.5 lakh village-based "Accredited Social Health Activists" who would act as a link between the health centres and the villagers. A village health plan would be prepared by a local team with the involvement of panchayats, Dr. Ramadoss said. According to the Minister, public partnership was a specific strategy under the NRHM. "We envisage an India where mothers and children would enjoy the highest possible level of health and where the highest priority would be accorded to their health and well-being. The United Progressive Alliance [Government] has undertaken to increase the spending on public health from [the] present 0.9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product to 2 per cent over the next five years," he added.

The Minister said the Government was in the process of launching the second phase of the "Reproductive and Child Health Programme" that encompassed the sector-wise approach with a flexible funding pool, promoting greater ownership by the States and emphasis on decentralised planning, programme implementation and institutional strengthening at different levels. The programme's focus is to promote institutional deliveries, skilled attendance at birth and emergency obstetric care with greater focus on families below the poverty line.

The World Health Organisation Director-General, Lee Jong-Wook, appreciated the Tamil Nadu Government's efforts in providing health care for women and children after the tsunami. He said that the health of children and women should be a priority for every Government as they were the foundations of a healthy society.

Dr. Ramadoss also felicitated a couple, Jairam and Renu Sharma, for sharing their experience of safe motherhood in their area in Najafgarh.

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