Treating the PM: A Public Health Initiative

January 27, 2009

It’s been four days since Manmohan Singh underwent coronary bypass surgery. The prime minister is said to be making “rapid progress” and is well on his way to recovery.

Back in 1990, Singh had bypass surgery in Britain and later underwent angioplasty at a private hospital.

But this time, he chose to be admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi rather than go abroad or enter a private facility.

Is it a vote of confidence in India’s public health infrastructure and the stature the country’s doctors have acquired over the past two decades?

“I chose the All India Institute of Medical Sciences because I have confidence in your ability and to encourage the general public to come here for treatment,” the Hindu newspaper quoted Singh as telling his medical team after the surgery.

“I hope every patient receives the same care as you have given me.”

Prior to the surgery, health minister Anbumani Ramadoss was quoted as saying: “Our doctors are competent and we don’t need experts from outside.”

Over a period of time, India has become a destination for medical tourism but as far as public health infrastructure goes, conditions can be quite patchy.

In India, a country with the world’s third highest HIV caseload, patients may spend days queuing up for tests and drugs at New Delhi hospitals as there simply are not enough doctors and nurses to attend to them all.

In fact, newspaper reports said Ramakanta Panda, who led the team of doctors for Singh’s surgery, brought some 20 boxes of special equipment with him from Mumbai.

And a ten-member medical team as well.

Unfortunately, doctors and nurses in India are usually poached either by private medical centres that cater to India’s expanding middle class or by hospitals abroad.

The general public hardly needs encouragement to go to a government hospital. Often it’s the only kind of social security available to the urban poor. In the absence of affordable medical care, they have no choice but to throng these hospitals.

During peak hours, hospitals like the AIIMS can be as crowded as a railway platform.

“Widening disparities are prevalent in health outcomes between income groups and between social and caste groups,” the UNICEF said in its ‘State of World Children – 2009′ report.

Is the common man likely to share the prime minister’s confidence in our health facilities?


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nice article .

gonna bookmark this page.

Manmohan Singh Rox


Hotel Clark Heights

Posted by Vipin singh | Report as abusive

India should quickly develop a health system where the eligible people can go to any hospital for treatment, and govt. pays a difined charge ( as is done in USA). I am not in favour of AIIMS like institutes in cities, what we need is hospitals in remote areas. In cities, people under BPL should get treatment from corporate hospitals and the govt. should pay for the treatment.

I am sick of govt. running businesses, be it airlines, telephone firms (BSNL, MTNL), etc. Privitize them and put that money in basic things like water, health, education etc.

Posted by Suresh | Report as abusive

I agree with what you have to say about the existing facilities provided by the government..and to add on to it..all i would like to bring to your noitce is that majority of the people belonging to the lower and middle income group prefer to get themselves treated by a private practitioner than go and face a never ending queue..and the rude medical practitioners…so it is only our VIP’s who can afford to get the best out of our excellent and proficient government staff.

Posted by Jyoti | Report as abusive

For a country like India, drafting can help. A drafting of Doctors, Engineers and Commerce students for about 2-3 years. Public and security service to the nation.

Posted by Neo | Report as abusive

[…] India: A billion aspirations » Blog Archive » Treating the PM: A … […]

Posted by Ripped Abs Formula | The Health Care Blog | Report as abusive

My question is did the PM even had the option of going abroad of a private medial facility. As the head of the nation he had to go to the AIIMS. In case he had chosen to exercise his options it would have set a bad precedent. Even if we agree that AIIMS is a world class institute, don’t we need an AIIMS all over India? Just one won’t suffice.

Posted by Himanshu | Report as abusive

Feel frustrated to read on and on the same stuff from different channels. India is not a country which was born rich or had independence to grow as it wishes. On top of it the basic weakness of Indian gene in terms of corruption, lazyness and hypocracy which lead to the culmination of all undesirable effects. If possible do something to set it right instead of writting tons of new print about it.

Posted by chanakya | Report as abusive

I wish Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a speedy recovery. He can easily be described as a people’s prime minister. One of the first few words he said after his re-do by pass surgery was raising concern about the same type of care given to common man.

Heart ailments were once only rich man’s disease. Now everyone suffers from heart problems, blockages in the coronary arteries and these have to looked into urgently – but the common man cannot afford the high cost of surgeries, medicines and post operative care and so the common man dies a quiet death.

As wished by Dr.Manmohan Singh, each and every doctor should devote some time, money and energy to treat patients free of cost.

Just as DR. APJ Abdul Kalam opened the gates of Rashtrapati BHavan to the common man, Dr.Manmohan Singh has opened the gates of AIIMS to common man.


Posted by S.Mariadas | Report as abusive

Its good to see that our Prime Minister chose AIIMS for his treatment.But is it sufficient to conclude that our health system has improved alot over the period of time.Prime Minister can get best available facility in AIIMS but can a common people from countryside will be treated likwise.We all may guess the answer.we have to go long way to improve our public health system in the required direction.

Posted by Sushil Prasad | Report as abusive

nice bro, ur concern and of primeminister too are genuine regarding the medical infrastructure of country. if u visit aiims, then u can understand the discrimination that is followed. vip’s have there seperate lobby’s and ward rooms. if u have seen the footage of hospital during pm’s illness of aiims can u make out is it same hospital that caters to the need of common man, sorry but it does not. the idea of choosing aiims for his treatment is fine since he has to built a trust in common man of this country about medical facilities of the country. but its a long way to go the projects about six aiims and other medical institutes of world level seems to have been on the paper only.

Posted by vaibhav | Report as abusive