The Government of India is all set to start establishing telemedicine centres in rural areas of the country to bridge the wide gap in healthcare delivery, said M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister Of Information and Broadcasting, Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

Speaking during the 25th convocation ceremony at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai on Sunday, the minister said the telemedicine centres would facilitate people in rural areas to make appointments at outpatient departments of major hospitals in cities; collect lab reports; and share blood availability status in government blood banks online, among others.

Also under the government’s consideration is a 24/7 national health helpline to resolve medical queries.

Highlighting India’s spending of about 4.2 per cent of its GDP on healthcare goods and services, compared to about 18 per cent by developed countries, Naidu said: “Compared to many developed nations it is low. The government’s healthcare expenditure has not been commensurate with the demands. We need to catch up with the global standards,” The Economic Times was quoted as saying.

Naidu also said that the number of doctors available per 10,000 people needs to be enhanced from its current level of 6, which is far below the WHO’s norm of one doctor per 1,000 people.

He informed that NITI Aayog has recommended opening of 187 medical colleges by 2022 to resolve this issue.

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