India has launched a massive plan to improve health care to the country's poor rural residents.
In announcing the health care initiative in New Delhi on Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government in the past has failed to address the issue of comprehensive health care. As a result, he said, inadequate attention has been paid to public health issues and preventive medicine.
Officials say the goal of the plan - known as the National Rural Health Mission- is to improve the availability of health care, especially for poor residents in the country's 300-thousand villages. They say the plan will initially focus on 18 impoverished states in the northern part of the country.
A key component of the plan is to train a woman health activist in each village to provide primary health care, including childbirth and neonatal assistance.