Niti mem­ber is di­rec­tor of PM’s health scheme

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - Jatin Gandhi and Utpal Bhaskar let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ ▪ (With in­puts from Ramesh Babu in Thiru­van­tha­pu­ram)

NEWDELHI: Di­nesh Arora, di­rec­tor (health) at fed­eral pol­icy think tank Niti Aayog, was on Tues­day ap­pointed di­rec­tor of the prime min­is­ter’s flag­ship health­care pro­gramme, Ayush­man Bharat, in the health min­istry, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

A govern­ment of­fi­cial in­volved with the project de­scribed Arora’s ap­pointment as “the for­mal­i­sa­tion of a work­ing ar­range­ment” ahead of two­day con­sul­ta­tions in­volv­ing nearly 150 of­fi­cials from the states and the Cen­tre that will give a fi­nal shape to the Na­tional Health Pro­tec­tion Scheme (NHPS) — which en­vis­ages a ₹5 lakh float­ing cover for nearly 100 mil­lion fam­i­lies or 500 mil­lion cit­i­zens.

The 41-year-old Arora, who had been work­ing on the pro­gramme for more than a month be­fore it was an­nounced in the bud­get speech by fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley on Fe­bru­ary 1, is a qual­i­fied doc­tor and has worked in pub­lic health in the past, head­ing the Na­tional Ru­ral Health Mis­sion (NRHM) in Ker­ala from May 2006 to Septem­ber 2009. He moved to Niti Aayog in July.

Asked about lessons from his Ker­ala days spent in pub­lic health, which can be ap­plied to the NHPS, Arora said, “In­surance be­came the ful­crum for health re­forms in the state. The pub­lic health sec­tor started earn­ing money from the in­surance cover, which was then used to up­grade the govern­ment run health cen­tres and hos­pi­tals.”

The NHPS will re­quire close co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the health min­istry and the fed­eral pol­icy body, which will co­or­di­nate with states. Arora be­gan his ca­reer as a sub-col­lec­tor in Ot­tap­palam (Palakkad dis­trict) where he took on the pow­er­ful sand mafia ex­ploit­ing Ker­ala’s largest river Bharat­a­puzha, his for­mer col­league in Ker­ala re­called.

Dur­ing his ten­ure in NRHM, he took spe­cial ini­tia­tives to achieve health for all tap­ping telemedicine and FM ra­dio pro­grammes to reach peo­ple stay­ing in re­mote and in­ac­ces­si­ble ar­eas, the of­fi­cial said.

Di­nesh Arora

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