Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday visited his hometown Vadnagar and was greeted by enthusiastic crowds everywhere. Modi, who also paid a nostalgic visit to his school, launched the ‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’ and lambasted the previous Congress-led UPA over the state of the healthcare sector.
“The last health policy was announced during Atalji’s (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) regime around 15 years back. After that, the government came to power had some hatred for people’s development.
“We brought a new health policy after almost 15 years from that,” Modi said, addressing a large enthusiastic gathering, after inaugurating a medical college in Vadnagar, in his first visit to his hometown after becoming Prime Minister in 2014.
He said his government was committed to making healthcare affordable to the poor and accused the earlier governments of not having cared to evolve a comprehensive health policy and were not being concerned about increasing the number of seats in the medical colleges in the country.
‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’ is aimed to accelerate progress towards the goal of full immunization coverage to reach out to still unattended regions.
The Prime Minister received a tumultuous welcome from thousands gathered to greet him as he entered Vadnagar. Every corner of the North Gujarat town was choc-a-bloc with people even as Modi hung out of his Range Rover SUV to greet them. The crowds followed his cavalcade wherever he went.
“Coming back to one’s hometown and receiving such a warm welcome is special. I go back with your blessings and assure you that I will work even harder for the nation,” said Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Gujarat.
He recalled the welcome, Major General K.C. Cariappa received in his hometown in Karnataka and stated that he must have got salutations of lakhs of soldiers, “but the reception by people of your home town is special”.
“Whatever I am today is due to values I have learnt on this soil, among you all in Vadnagar,” he told the people, amid loud cheers.
“I am happy that I have got to inaugurate projects relating to the health sector, particularly Intensified Mission Indradhanush,” Modi said.
“Work is constantly being done to make healthcare affordable for the poor.”
He said, “I was shocked to find that the stent for the heart cost Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. The cost itself could give a heart attack to people. I called in experts, doctors and got it studied to know why was it so expensive. I am happy to tell you that there is a reduction of 30 per cent to 40 per cent in it now.”
The Prime Minister cited the Jan Aushadhi Scheme, “through which we started generic medicine stores in government civil hospitals to sell cheaper drugs. Medicines which used to be available in the market for Rs 1,000 are now sold at Rs 18 to Rs 20 at these stores.”
He said he had appealed to lakhs of doctors in the country to treat poor pregnant women completely free on the 9th of every month. “I am happy to inform you that as many as 80 lakh to 85 lakh women got free treatment like this. But I wish this to become a norm, giving free treatment for 12 days in a year is not difficult at all,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said the maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate had come down during the last three years after his government took over in 2014, but added “a lot more still needed to be done”.
He inaugurated the Rs 500 crore GMERS medical college in Vadnagar and also interacted with the medical students in the classroom. The Prime Minister said his government increased as many as 6,000 seats in the medical colleges in the country and his aim was to ensure there was a medical college and hospital between every three to four Lok Sabha constituencies.
Modi also visited his school where he knelt and touched his forehead to the ground. He also offered prayers at the Hatkeshwar Mahadev Temple here.
Modi used to vend tea as a young boy at the railway station here.