The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sushma dangles AIIMS dream

Calcutta, Aug. 2: Union health minister Sushma Swaraj today announced that a city medical college will be upgraded to match the standards of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

“We will provide all the infrastructure and facilities available at AIIMS,” Swaraj said while discussing health projects with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. “We will also make the funds available.”

An earlier effort to set up a hospital in the state on a par with AIIMS had proved abortive. In 1996, then health minister Prasanta Sur had laid the foundation stone of the Nurul Hassan Institute of Medical Sciences at Kalyani but it never took off because of shortage of funds.

“We have decided that it will be the Medical College and Hospital that will be upgraded to the status of AIIMS and we shall inform Delhi about it in a day or two,” health secretary Asim Burman said later.

Swaraj, on a day’s visit, also promised to upgrade the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for children by introducing more beds, equipment and other infrastructure. “We will honour the promise made by my predecessor, Shatrughan Sinha,” she said. After the deaths of 19 newborns at the hospital, Sinha had promised an expansion and upgradation.

“Besides the specific demands placed before me, I shall extend our cooperation in all matters relating to the health sector,” Swaraj, flanked by Bhattacharjee and health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, said at a hotel.

Earlier, the Union minister chaired a meeting of the governing body of the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute and approved a grant of Rs 32 crore for a new 200-bed wing.

Swaraj said Bhattacharjee had sought 200 undergraduate seats at the University College of Medicine at SSKM Hospital and the Midnapur Medical College. “We will take necessary steps after obtaining a report on this from the Medical Council of India.”

Swaraj also promised help in getting World Bank funding for health projects in rural areas.

Bhattacharjee was convinced Swaraj would keep her promises. “Earlier, many Union ministers, including Shatrughan Sinha and Ram Naik, had made promises and they have kept their word. So there is no reason to believe that health minister Sushma Swaraj is making false promises.”

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