Union Health Minister JP Nadda said India has fast-tracked initiatives for universal health coverage (UHC) and his ministry is working “very hard” for effectively implementing the Ayushman Bharat scheme – the largest government-funded health scheme in the world. At the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia here, he said India supports the regional and global health agenda and stands ready to work with fellow member states and the international community to achieve the common goal of Health for All. Ayushman Bharat rests on the twin pillars of Health and Wellness Centers for the provision of comprehensive primary healthcare services and the Prime Minister’s National Health Protection Mission for secondary and tertiary care to 100 million families.
“Under the first pillar of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, we are reaching out to approximately 40 percent of country’s population roughly covering 500 million individuals, who will be provided with an insurance cover of ₹5 lakh to cover secondary and tertiary healthcare. “Initially spanning almost 1300 procedures under 20 different specialties, this will be the largest government-funded health protection scheme in the world,” the Health Minister said. He pointed out that under the second pillar, 150,000 health and wellness centers would bring healthcare closer to people, so that every Indian can have timely access to healthcare, including diagnostic services and free essential drugs.
“The Health Ministry is working very hard for effective implementation of Ayushman Bharat for a healthy, productive and prosperous India,” Nadda said. The member countries of the WHO’s Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO), including India, are meeting to brainstorm on measures against vector-borne diseases and improving access to essential medicines. The minister said, “India has fast-tracked many initiatives aimed at achieving all the core tenets of UHC i.e., strengthening health systems, improving access to free medicines; diagnostics and reducing catastrophic healthcare spending.” Nadda said India firmly believes in the objective of attainment of the highest possible level of health — a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
“Moving toward this objective, we have adopted the National Health Policy 2017 with the aim to provide affordable healthcare for all,” he asserted. Highlighting the initiatives of the government, Nadda said although the WHO has fixed 2030 as the timeline for elimination of tuberculosis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has exhorted the ministry to achieve it five years ahead of target in 2025. “In line with this ambitious plan, India is on track for the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis and we have recently introduced supplementary nutritional support for the complete duration of treatment for patients,” he added. The Health Minister said India has already initiated universal screening for prevention and management of five common NCDs including hypertension, diabetes and three common cancers of oral cavity, breast and cervix across the country.
He pointed out that the Health Ministry has started a unique initiative called AMRIT Deendayal, an acronym for Affordable Medicines; Reliable Implants for Treatment – Centers that provide medicines for cancer; cardiovascular diseases and cardiac implants at significantly reduced prices. The government has also opened Jan Aushadhi (peoples’ medicines) stores to make available quality affordable essential medicines to people in need, he said. “India has always supported regional and global public health issues whether it be advocacy, technical collaboration, research and development, partnerships or improving the accessibility and affordability of health services and high quality essential medical products.
“India supports the regional and global health agenda and stands ready to work with fellow member states and the international community to achieve our common goal of Health for All,” the minister added. Ambassadors and High Commissioners from the member countries, senior officers of the ministry and representatives and delegates from across the globe were also present during the event. Ministers of Health from the countries of the WHO South-East Asia Region (SEAR), NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Secretary (Health) Preeti Sudan, who South-East Asia Region Regional Director Poonam Khetrapal Singh, and who DDG Jane Allison was also present at the inaugural session. – Medical Dialogues