After two years delay, National Institute of Ageing at AIIMS to finally see light of the day

| | New Delhi

It has taken more than two years for the country's premier health institution AIIMS in the National Capital to realise that setting up a research facility for a contagious disease like TB and geriatric care in the same building does not auger well for the visiting elderly patients who are vulnerable to all kinds of diseases.

Now, following objection from the Union Health Ministry, it has tweaked the proposal wherein 'non-hazardous' facilities will come up at the building that will majorly house the National Institute of Ageing.

The issue has pegged back the AIIMS, Delhi, project by two years. In contrast, the construction of building for the same purpose in Chennai on the Madras Medical College (MMC) premises is moving at a fast pace to be completed by the year-end. The institute will function under the MMC.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely in his maiden budget in 2014 had announced funds for setting up the two National Institutes for Ageing in Delhi and Chennai in the field of geriatric care in the country: aiming better health care delivery for old people, training of health professionals and research activities along with 200 bedded in-patient services and 15 seats for post-graduate course in geriatric medicine.

 "Earlier a proposal to house certain communicable disease treatment and advanced research facilities in the same building had been moved by the AIIMS, Delhi. This matter remained under consideration for some time, However, it was not agreed upon in the interest of health safety of geriatric patients. This was the cause for delay," said a senior official from the Health Ministry.

He said that now the issue is being sorted out and a 'non-health hazardous' facility will occupy some additional floors of the building.

The need for setting up the Centre for Excellence for elders has been constantly felt as there is no specialisation in geriatric medicines available in the country. These institutes will also involve in developing enhanced evidence of elderly through research in geriatrics and gerontology under the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE) programme which envisages establishing geriatric wards, rehabilitation centres and geriatric clinics at various levels of the district health care delivery system.

By 2020, India will have around 12 million elderly persons with difficulty in accomplishing activities of daily living (ADLs), estimates a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report. There will also be a surge of chronic illnesses, the most common among those being arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, depression and alzheimer's disease. The "India Ageing Report 2017" released by UNFPA recently predicts the number to be 17.8 million by 2030 and 37.9 million by 2050.



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