New Delhi, July 11 (UNI) Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh today admitted that the target of achieving public health spending of two per cent of GDP by 2012 was unlikely to be achieved and blamed the State governments and inadequate corporate sector involvement for the failure.
Addressing a National Conference on 'Corporate Engagement in Reproductive Rights: Let's Make it Happen', Mr Jairam Ramesh spoke at some length about the lack lustre performance of the public sector healthcare system in the country, saying that spending on the sector was even less than that of education.
The Minister said Self Help Groups (SHGs) would be better vehicles for creating public awareness about reproductive health than Panchayatai Raj Institutions.
The Conference was organised to commemorate 'World Population Day' today.
The event was organised by FICCI in partnership with UNFPA, 'Janasankhya Sthirata Kosk' (JSK) and 'Population Foundation of India'.
Mr Ramesh said in the last four years, the government has put in place systems that will facilitate public expenditure in health.
However, the impression he gave was that little was happening on the ground.
The Minister commended the 'Prerna' initiative of the JSK, which aims at identifying role models from among those couples that break stereotypes from within the village community.
The role models are those who live in underserved areas and fulfil responsible parenthood, which includes a girl's marriage after 19 years; giving birth to the first child after the mother was 21 years old; keeping a 36-month gap between the first and second child; and one parent getting sterilised after the second child is born.
Mr Ramesh appealed to the private sector to identify role models and give financial reward to couples for responsible parenthood.
In this regard, he cited the example of the NGO. For achieving any one of the four 'responsible parenthood' practices, JSK gives the 'Prerna' award to a couple amounting to Rs 5,000-7000 as 'Kisan Vikas Patra', issued by the village post office.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Nesim Tumkaya, UNFPA Representative in India, said: India will overtake China as the most populous country in 20 years. India's population could reach anywhere between 1.4 billion and two billion by 2050.
These growing number of families and individuals need a helping hand from the State or the society around them. The State has the responsibility to provide equal access to education, health, employment, security and other aspects of life that citizens of the richer countries take for granted, he said.
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