Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday underlined the need to give importance to preventive health care with simple habits like washing hands among children to reduce the burden on the nation's health care systems.
Inaugurating the swank renovated Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital in south Mumbai here, Modi said treating illness and convalescence were expensive but preventive methods were very cheap.
"For instance, if we can provide clean pure drinking water, a majority of health problems can be solved.
"After the Sabarmati river was revived with water from the Narmada Dam around 10 years ago, there has not been an outbreak of a single (water-borne disease) epidemic in the city (Ahmedabad). The people have got clean water, water tables have risen and the civic body has made savings of Rs.15 crore in bills," Modi said.
The prime minister cited examples to show how a simple habit like washing hands before meals among children can prevent many diseases.
Lack of this habit claims many young lives, he said and lauded an initiative by the Madhya Pradesh government of community washing of hands with soap by children as a step towards good health.
Modi also expressed concern over the infant mortality rate and lack of adequate health care which has resulted in the deaths of expectant mothers.
"They need to get the primary focus of attention. The poorest of the poor in the remotest parts must get the best of health care. In this regard, technological advances like telemedicine can be of immense help," Modi said.
He touched upon the need to manufacture essential medical equipment in India with foreign investment to bring down the cost.
Modi also stressed the need for adopting 'holistic health care', including ancient Indian wisdom and modern scientific knowledge, for the benefit of all countrymen.
The prime minister spoke of his suggestion at the United Nations for an "International Yoga Day" and said that since holistic health care was a subject of interest across the world, India could contribute a lot to this cause through its rich heritage.
He said India had a heritage where people desired the good of everyone.
"A true leader works with the intention of wiping the tears of the poor," he said, reciting two shlokas.
Earlier, the prime minister inaugurated the hospital, now in its 90th year, located in south Mumbai, which has been re-built by Reliance Foundation, led by its chairperson Nita Ambani, into a modern 19-storey tower with two heritage wings.
Nita Ambani termed it "a historic day" in the life of the hospital which was re-dedicated to the people of Mumbai.
"Narendra bhai, we assure that this hospital will become a centre of good health and global levels of health care, respect for life, modern technology combined with love and compassion, with dignity to all," she said.
"This will not just be a hospital but an institution of care," she said, adding that words like religion, caste, social strata, age and gender will not interfere with the kind of treatment patients receive.
"We won't just treat health, we will also respect life," and at this institution quality will meet affordability, she added.
Founded in 1925 as Mumbai's first general hospital, it has a rich heritage -- it saw the freedom struggle and the Second World War, and Mahatma Gandhi was among its frequent visitors.
The hospital celebrated its silver jubilee with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as its chief guest and the golden jubilee celebrations were graced by Jayaprakash Narayan.
Now in its 90th year, the prime minister is inaugurating its new avatar, the foundation said.
The 345-bed, multi-specialty tertiary care hospital has six thrust areas: cardiac sciences, nephro-urology, neuro sciences, oncology, orthopaedics and spine, and women and child health.
Earlier, Mukesh Ambani, his wife Nita and other family members welcomed Modi near the entrance to the hospital, along with Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao.
The ceremonies were performed before a galaxy of film stars, business honchos, cricketers, politicians and other celebrities from different walks of life.
Present at the inauguration were Kokilaben Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan, Gulzar, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao, Hrithik Roshan, Paresh Rawal, Rishi and Neetu Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Praful Patel, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Sonali Bendre, Asha Bhonsle, M.S. Dhoni, union minister Piyush Goyal and Maharashtra BJP leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Vinod Tawde among others.