“Central Government is providing support to the tune of Rs. 482 crore for the states. As many as 45 state labs are to be strengthened. I request the states to come forward with the proposals or give us the plan for strengthening the laboratories.”This was stated by JP Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare as he presided over the ‘First Health Ministers Roundtable on Food Safety & Nutrition’ organized by FSSAI, yesterday. Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS (Health) along with the Health Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Puducherry, Jharkhand and Delhi were also present at the roundtable.

JP Nadda further stated that finance will not be a constraint and each state should have at least one government food laboratory of high quality with bigger states having at least two. Citing the example of Pradhan Mantri Dialysis Programme, the Health Minister said that initially states expressed some apprehensions about this initiative however today the programme is a huge success. “More than 1.76 lakhs patients have availed free services from 539 dialysis units across the country, JP Nadda added.

Nadda said that there should be fairness and transparency in enforcement. “We must safeguard public health by ensuring all food businesses are licensed and follow standards. At the same time, we should be careful that it does not put unnecessary regulatory burden on the food businesses. Emphasizing on generating awareness, he said that sensitization is a major area to work for and FSSAI can provide support in this so that people opt for self-regulation.

JP Nadda further mentioned that the focus should shift from disease and treatment centred healthcare to preventive and promotive healthcare. Moving towards this, the Government has announced transforming 1.5 lakh sub health centres to ‘Health and Wellness’ centres.  Nadda further stated that in a step towards provision of comprehensive primary care, the Government has initiated universal screening of common NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension and common cancers at the sub-centre and Primary Health Centre.“This will enable the strengthening of preventive and promotive health, improve patient referral and access to secondary care services, Nadda added.

Speaking at the function, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS (Health) stated that promoting and building the mechanisms for availability and consumption of Safe & Nutritious Food is central to attainment of the goals laid out in the National Health Policy 2017 which focuses on “promotive and preventive health care” and targets to reduce disease burden and premature mortality through Non-Communicable Disease like Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases among others.

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