Junagarh, August 23: The country would have been disease-free by now if programmes like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan were started 70 years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today.
Taking a dig at the Opposition, Modi said he was mocked for these programmes, which were aimed at making a healthy nation.
Quoting a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, he said three lakh children in India were saved because of the cleanliness drive.
“There has been a recent WHO report, (which states) that just because of cleanliness, three lakh children could be saved from dying in India, such is the situation. The Swachhta Abhiyan is directly connected to health,” Modi said, addressing a public gathering in Junagadh district of Gujarat.
He was speaking after inaugurating various projects, including a newly-built hospital of the Gujarat Medical and Education Research Society.
“When I used to talk about cleanliness, they (Opposition) used to make fun of me. Is this the prime minister’s work…to make toilets, clear garbage? Had all these works been done 70 years ago, the country would have been disease-free by now,” Modi said.
He added that moving the country towards being open defecation-free was the biggest service towards health.
Modi said a programme was started under which there will be a medical college and a hospital for every three parliamentary constituencies. Later, as the programme progresses, the number of parliamentary seats will be reduced to two and then one, he added.
“Finally, there should be a medical college and a hospital in every district,” Modi said.
The prime minister arrived in Gujarat this morning on a day-long visit and headed to Valsad, where he witnessed a collective “e-gruha pravesh” (online house-warming ceremony) of the beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin).
He will later attend the convocation of the Gujarat Forensic Science University in Gandhinagar and a meeting of the Somnath Temple Trust at the Raj Bhavan there. (PTI)