India saw its entire healthcare system, including both public and private sector, work together to tackle the Covid pandemic and is better prepared to tackle any future health emergency, secretary of the union ministry of health and family welfare Sudhansh Pant said.
“If there is to be some zoonotic disease or some outbreak, we should be much better prepared in terms of infrastructure, in terms of human resources, to tackle any sort of health emergency,” Pant said. “This an occasion to remember how, in the last two years, the entire healthcare system worked [as one] to tackle the pandemic,” he added.
More than 4.7 million people in India are estimated to have died due to Covid-19, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report – nearly 10 times more than official records suggest. However, India’s government has rejected the figure, saying the methodology is flawed.
Pant said a huge paradigm shift is taking place in the Indian healthcare system, especially in public healthcare in rural areas. “In 2018, the Ayushmann Bharat scheme was launched by the prime minister. And today we realise why it has been a game-changer,” Pant said.
“At that point in time, the scheme had two main pillars. The first was the Aayushman Bharat health and wellness centre, which has now been renamed the Ayushman Arogya Mandir. The second pillar was the PM Jan Arogya Yojana – the assurance scheme,” he said, adding the Indian medical system is moving from curative measures to preventive measures.
“For the first time, 12 basic screenings and diagnostic facilities were provided at that level including screening for NCD, screening for diabetes and hypertension, and even basic cancer screening. For the first time in the history of the country, these kinds of facilities were offered at the primary level”, Pant said.
“This is a huge number. Today there are more than 1.62 lakh Ayushman Arogya Mandirs across the country. We have about 2.7 lakh gram panchayats. So on average, every 1.5-2 gram panchayats will have this primary-level care,” he added.
Pant said over 12 crore families or about 60 crore people are now covered by the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), making it the world’s largest health insurance scheme.
“Poor people who could never even dream of entering a good private-sector hospital can now go there and without spending a penny can get treated for all kinds of serious ailments,” he said.
“In these five years of its implementation, about six crore hospitalisations have taken place and the amount which has been reimbursed to the hospitals is nearly ₹75,000 crores,” he added. Pant said out-of-pocket expenditure for healthcare has declined from 69% in 2011-12 to 44% in 2021-22, and is expected to drop to 35% by 2025-26. “Government expenditure on healthcare has also increased from 22% in 2011-12 to 45% in 2021 and is projected to go past 55% in the next two to three years,” he said.
“Because of the all the interventions by the government – the increase in healthcare expenditure, in the number of schemes, and the impact of schemes like PMJAY – the people of this country have saved ₹5 lakh crore in the six year to 2021,” Pant added. LiveMint