New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an aim to increase the share of healthcare sector in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to 2.5 per cent, Union minister Rajnath Singh said today.

In his address at the Founder’s Day celebrations of the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) here, the home minister also asserted that the government considered the private sector as a “strategic partner” in its endeavour to achieve universal healthcare and health cover to all citizens.

“In a country of 125 crore people it is not an easy job to provide healthcare to all. There are various challenges which we have to meet…When it comes to government’s expenditure, our healthcare sector accounts for 1.16 per cent of the GDP.

“But, I want to assure you, and our prime minister also talks about it. And, the PM has aimed that the GDP share of the healthcare sector should be increased to 2.5 per cent, and for that expenditure can be made,” Singh said.

The minister, in his speech, also hailed Sir Ganga Ram and his legacy, saying he is remembered both in India and Pakistan for his contribution, despite the partition in 1947.

Highlighting the challenges in terms of number of doctors and nurses, and infrastructural needs, Singh said, the government wanted to “encourage investment in this field”.

“If one looks at the current scenario in India, we have 0.6 doctors per thousand of population and 0.8 nurses per thousand of population, while the number of beds per thousand stands at 1.5. And, the situation is not so good at global level too,” he said.

“So, we want to encourage investment in the preventive and promotive (healthcare) sector. We see the private sector as strategic partners in our endeavour to provide universal healthcare,” the minister said.

On the occasion, the home minister also inaugurated an 11-storeyed car parking facility and laid foundation stone of a radiotherapy and OPD block in the SGRH premises.

Sir Ganga Ram, an engineer by profession, was born on April 13, 1851 in a village in Punjab province of British India.

He established the SGRH in 1920s in Lahore which still functions by the same name, even after partition.

The SGRH in Delhi was inaugurated in 1954 by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.