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Seventeenth Convocation of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore held

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Report by India Education bureau, Bangalore: The 17th Convocation of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences was held in Bangalore today. Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare was the Chief Guest on the occasion. 

Addressing the Convocation, Shri Azad said the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, a Deemed University, has been designated as an Institute of National Importance by an Act of Parliament. NIMHANS came into existence on 14th Feb. 1974. Since then the Institute has been the pioneer and leader in the discipline of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in India. NIMHANS started a number of new initiatives in the past year like free legal aid services, ‘NIMHANS Centre for Well-Being’, Neurobiology Research Centre with 15 state of the art laboratories. Recently ‘Centre for Public Health’ has been started to strengthen programme related components. Many patient care facilities have been added in the hospital such as Infosys Dharmshala, New Rehabilitation Complex, One Million Litre Sewage Treatment Plant and Computerization of Hospital Services. These are the historic times for the Indian Healthcare and have brought international accolades for collective efforts at containing Polio. There have been significant falls in MMR, IMR and TFR. There is also reduction in new HIV cases by 57%. 

He said the launch of mass screening for early detection of Non Communicable Diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension and Cancer and new initiatives for well-being of mother and new born children by the Ministry has helped to deal with public health concerns. India is now better prepared to deal with disease outbreaks and epidemics, and able to better manage emerging infections such as the Influenza-A H1N1. The number of labs has increased from 2 to 46; indigenous Reagents for H1N1 testing have been developed and an indigenous H1N1 vaccine has been produced within one year in collaboration with the private sector. A series of reforms in medical education have been undertaken to increase the human resources at various levels. The availability of MBBS seats has gone up from 33,567 to 45,629 in just over four years’ time. The number of PG seats has increased from 13,838 to 22,850 seats. 72 new medical colleges (including six new AIIMS) have been established raising the number from 290 to 362. The Medical Colleges of the six new AIIMS have started functioning with admission of 50 students each in September, 2012. Government of India has taken up 19 state government owned medical colleges for up-gradation under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Surakhsha Yojana in different parts of the country. Together with the 6 new AIIMS, these 19 up-graded institutions would provide speciality and super-speciality care in all disciplines with a net addition of 11,390 beds covering 27 locations across the country. 

Shri Azad said name, address and telephone based Mother and Child Tracking System has been put in place to reach out to every pregnant woman for proper care during pregnancy and to every child for proper vaccination. A new initiative called “Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram” has been launched on 6th February, 2013 from a tribal block of Thane District in Maharashtra for Universal Screening of Children for Disorders, Diseases, Deficiencies and Disabilities from birth up to 18 years. The programme will cover about 270 million children across the country. India and Bangladesh have signed an MoU few days back to cooperate each other in health sector. Both countries have facilitated the setting up of the South Asian Autism Network. The meeting of this network concluded on 11th February, 2013 with the Adoption of Delhi Declaration. Through SAAN, it is intended to have a plan that will guide us to take the next steps for safeguarding the health of children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders. 

He said the recent national review in mental health observed that nearly one out of every two patients had to travel more than 5 kms to seek care and 40% had to travel more than 10 kms. Keeping these factors in view, the National Mental Health Programmes have been re-strategized with an aim to up-grade all the Mental Hospitals across the country. In addition to this, the psychiatry wings of about 90 medical colleges are being upgraded and District Hospitals strengthened for providing hospital services to mentally ill patients. The 108 Ambulance services will be made available to transport patients to the District Hospitals during emergency. The Health Ministry has drawn up an ambitious plan to scale up the programme to about 300 districts and subsequently to all districts in phased manner during 12th Five Year Plan. NIMHANS has been asked to evaluate the ongoing programme and also give a blue print to expand the mental health services across the country. 

Shri Azad said mental health services are dependent of the availability of trained personnel and professionals. About 550 doctors qualify every year in the discipline of mental health. The Gap Analysis of Human Resources shows that there is overall shortage of 87%, ranging from 67% for a psychiatrist to 96% for psychiatric social workers. The Mental Health Policy Group constituted by Health Ministry in May 2011 has made progress in drafting a Mental Health Policy for the country. Several consultations, both regional and national, have been made and the bill is now being processed for introduction in the Parliament, he added. 
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