The Union Health Ministry is 'not making sufficient' efforts to prevent health ailments, senior BJP leader and former Union Health Minister Shatrughan Sinha said in Mumbai on Friday.

Shatrughan Sinha. File pic

"On one hand, we say that we are a nation moving away from the category of developing nations to the developed nations category, but on the other hand, we are a country with the most numerous cases of oral cancer, and we are soon going to be the diabetes capital of the world, with even mortality rates going up alarmingly," Sinha said, while addressing the inaugural session of the World Congress on Coronary Disease in Mumbai.

"Though certain steps have been taken, we still have long way to go, especially in the BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states where tobacco consumption has emerged as the biggest killer," he said. "The Union Health Ministry is not making sufficient efforts to prevent health ailments," he added.

Noting that lifestyle diseases are affecting the younger generation, including women, the former union health minister said, "We need to penetrate the interiors to provide basic health facilities because 25 per cent of the population has access to 75 per cent of health facilities, while in sharp contrast to this, 75 per cent of rest of the population has access to only a meagre 25 per cent of health facilities. If we don't bridge this gap, there will be a question mark over all our efforts," he said, before adding that this an effort which must be done collectively.

When he was asked if there were any health-related projects pending which were launched during his tenure as union health minister, Sinha said, "Yes, when I was health minister, I set up the Mashelkar Committee to counter the menace of counterfeit medicines and bogus doctors, but now I have learnt that there has been no development on that front".

Sinha said that the country faces a huge shortage of drug inspectors who should be recruited in sufficient numbers to check the quality and sales of medicines at retail stores.