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Plan for 6 new AIIMS: What's in it for us?

P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai , Feb. 4

WHAT does the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) mean to the average person, particularly one outside Delhi? And why is the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh keen on replicating its model in other states?

Consider this — the AIIMS in Delhi has a turnover of 23 lakh patients per year, or an average 8,000 patients per day. "People come here for treatment, from neighbouring states, from distant locations in the country and from other foreign countries. And this has to do both with the medical expertise in several disciplines that are available under one roof and the nominal cost. On an average patients pay about Rs 35 per day, without taking into account other surgeries and operations, which also are modest in comparison to private healthcare delivery systems" point out hospital officials.

An interesting analogy of what AIIMS means to the medical and healthcare fraternity is explained by Dr Swati Piramal, who is both a doctor and non-Delhiite! "The AIIMS is equivalent to our IITs or the Indian Institutes of Technology that are centres of excellence," she observes. Dr Piramal is Director in charge of Strategic Alliances and Communications, Nicholas Piramal India Limited.

Titled the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), the scheme envisages AIIMS-type hospitals in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal. Union Health Ministry officials told Business Line that "the total project cost is about Rs 300 crore per AIIMS and the funds would come from the Union Health Ministry through plan budgetary allocations.

These six states are medically underserved states and places from where several patients flock to AIIMS in Delhi."

The capital city's AIIMS was conceptualised in 1956 and operationalised two years later. It was to be a referral hospital, although its present day avatar takes on the added responsibility of a general hospital as well. A corner-stone in medical sciences, AIIMS has currently embarked on a "dream vision" or a Rs 1,300 crore redevelopment plan aimed at streamlining, modernising and decongesting the hospital by 2025.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister is just one in an illustrious string of Government top-brass, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani and the Union Health Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, to have talked about replicating the AIIMS model. "The first mention of this was made by Prime Minister, Mr A B. Vajpayee from the ramparts of the Redfort on Independence Day last year," point out Health Ministry top-brass.

Meanwhile, the PMSsY also outlines the upgradation of one medical college to the level of AIIMS, in each of six states of Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. A provision of Rs 60 crore has been made in the Interim Budget for both the schemes.

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