Niti member is director of PM’s health scheme
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.