Min­istry of Health and Fam­ily Wel­fare has scaled up ef­forts to­wards pro­vid­ing uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age and de­liv­er­ing qual­ity health­care ser­vices to all at af­ford­able cost.

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Uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age is de­fined as en­sur­ing that all peo­ple have ac­cess to needed pro­mo­tive, pre­ven­tive, cu­ra­tive and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive health ser­vices, of suf­fi­cient qual­ity to be ef­fec­tive, while also en­sur­ing that peo­ple do not suf­fer fi­nan­cial hard­ship when pay­ing for these ser­vices.

Good health of its cit­i­zens is es­sen­tial for sus­tained eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment of the na­tion. At least half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion can­not have ac­cess to es­sen­tial health ser­vices and a large num­bers of house­holds are be­ing pushed into poverty each year, as they have to pay for health care, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from the World Bank and World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO).

Uni­ver­sal Health Cov­er­age (UHC) is the most pow­er­ful uni­fy­ing sin­gle con­cept for bet­ter health out­comes of the pop­u­la­tion, and for end­ing poverty glob­ally. The uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age means that all in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties have ac­cess to the health ser­vices they need with­out suf­fer­ing fi­nan­cial hard­ship.

Min­istry of Health and Fam­ily Wel­fare (MOHFW), Gov­ern­ment of In­dia has scaled up ef­forts to­wards pro­vid­ing uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age and de­liv­er­ing qual­ity health­care ser­vices to all at af­ford­able cost as com­mit­ted un­der Na­tional Health Pol­icy 2017.

Re­cently a vi­sion­ary de­ci­sion taken by the gov­ern­ment in the form of “Ayush­man Bharat Pro­gramme” to build a New In­dia 2022 will en­sure en­hanced pro­duc­tiv­ity, well­be­ing and avert wage loss and im­pov­er­ish­ment in the coun­try.

Dr Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus, Di­rec­tor- Gen­eral of WHO dur­ing his re­cent visit to In­dia for the Delhi End TB Sum­mit 2018 com­pli­mented the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia on the coura­geous and bold ini­tia­tives taken to ex­pand uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age through the two pil­lars of Ayush­man Bharat. Dr Te­dros also as­sured to fur­ther strengthen col­lab­o­ra­tive work be­tween In­dia and WHO in achiev­ing im­proved health out­comes.

The two ma­jor ini­tia­tives in health sec­tor, as part of Ayush­man Bharat Pro­gramme will ad­dress health holis­ti­cally in pri­mary, sec­ondary and ter­tiary care sys­tems, cov­er­ing both preven­tion and health pro­mo­tion ser­vices.

The ini­tia­tive to strengthen the pri­mary health­care sys­tem by cre­at­ing 1.5 lakh Health and Well­ness Cen­tres will pro­vide peo­ple-cen­tric com­pre­hen­sive pri­mary health­care closer to the homes of peo­ple. These cen­tres will de­liver pre­ven­tive, pro­mo­tive, cu­ra­tive and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive care for a pack­age of 12 ser­vices for com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases and ma­ter­nal and child health ser­vices with free es­sen­tial drugs and di­ag­nos­tics. Con­tri­bu­tion of pri­vate sec­tor through cor­po­rate so­cial

We are com­mit­ted to ad­vanc­ing the agenda of uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age in the coun­try, and have rolled out var­i­ous ini­tia­tives to meet this aim. JP Nadda Union Min­is­ter of Health and Fam­ily Wel­fare

re­spon­si­bil­ity (CSR) and phil­an­thropic in­sti­tu­tions in adopt­ing these cen­tres is also en­vis­aged in the pro­gramme.

The sec­ond trans­for­ma­tive ini­tia­tive un­der Ayush­man Bharat is the Na­tional Health Pro­tec­tion Scheme (NHPS), un­der which about 10 crore poor and vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies (ap­prox­i­mately 50 crore ben­e­fi­cia­ries) will be pro­vided treat­ment cov­er­age up to Rs 5 lakh per fam­ily per year for sec­ondary and ter­tiary care hos­pi­tal­iza­tion. The ben­e­fi­cia­ries will be able to avail cash­less ben­e­fits across In­dia.

The gov­ern­ment of In­dia is con­sis­tently work­ing to­wards im­prov­ing ter­tiary health­care in­fra­struc­ture as well as health man­power in the coun­try. Among on­go­ing scheme to es­tab­lish 58 new med­i­cal col­leges at­tached with ex­ist­ing district/ re­fer­ral hos­pi­tals, eight med­i­cal col­leges have al­ready started func­tion­ing in last 3 years, while the re­main­ing 50 would be made func­tional by 2019-20.

In or­der to fur­ther en­hance ac­ces­si­bil­ity of qual­ity med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and health­care, 24 new gov­ern­ment med­i­cal col­leges and hos­pi­tals are pro­posed by up-grad­ing ex­ist­ing district hos­pi­tals in the coun­try by 2021-22, in the iden­ti­fied un­der­served ar­eas in the coun­try. This would en­sure that there is at least one med­i­cal col­lege for every 3 Par­lia­men­tary con­stituen­cies and at least one gov­ern­ment med­i­cal col­lege in each state of the coun­try.

The gov­ern­ment has also an­nounced es­tab­lish­ment of 13 new All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences (AIIMS) and set­ting up of su­per-spe­cialty fa­cil­i­ties at 15 ex­ist­ing gov­ern­ment med­i­cal col­leges.

The gov­ern­ment has also ap­proved to in­crease 10,000 MBBS seats and 8,058 Post Grad­u­ate seats by 2020-21 to en­hance the avail­abil­ity of qual­i­fied doc­tors; be­sides the 8,200 MBBS seats that would be added with the es­tab­lish­ment of new med­i­cal col­leges. The proac­tive steps taken by the gov­ern­ment to in­crease the num­ber of qual­i­fied doc­tors in the coun­try, has al­ready added nearly 13,000 MBBS seats and 7,000 PG seats since 2014-15.

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the scheme for set­ting up of 112 aux­il­iary nurs­ing and mid­wifery schools (ANM) and 136 gen­eral nurs­ing mid­wifery (GNM) schools by 2019-20 in the un­der­served ar­eas would also sup­port the UHC.

Pro­vi­sion of free drugs and free es­sen­tial di­ag­nos­tic ser­vices un­der Na­tional Health Mis­sion in pub­lic health fa­cil­i­ties and set­ting up of It-backed sys­tems for drug pro­cure­ment and qual­ity as­sur­ance are the re­cent ad­vance­ments in health sec­tor.

The es­tab­lish­ment of new med­i­cal col­leges and in­crease of MBBS seats and PG seats would lead to in­crease in the avail­abil­ity of qual­i­fied health pro­fes­sion­als, im­prove ter­tiary care in gov­ern­ment sec­tor, utilise ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture of district hos­pi­tals and pro­mote af­ford­able med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try for gen­eral pub­lic, bridge the provider-pa­tient ra­tio to at­tain Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and meet WHO stan­dards.

Uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age is not an end in it­self, its goal is that all cit­i­zens of the coun­try can achieve full health po­ten­tial at every age by us­ing health ser­vices that are ap­pro­pri­ate to them, and can con­tribute to so­cioe­co­nomic and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

Let’s take the op­por­tu­nity on World Health Day to make uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age a re­al­ity for many more peo­ple and “Ayush­man Bharat Pro­gramme” a suc­cess in shap­ing a healthy In­dia.

Union Min­is­ter for Health & Fam­ily Wel­fare JP Nadda, along with his ju­nior min­is­ters Ash­wini Ku­mar Choubey and Anupriya Pa­tel, dur­ing a Press con­fer­ence on the Gen­eral Bud­get 2018-19, in New Delhi

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi re­viewed the progress of preparations to­wards the launch of “Ayush­man Bharat”, in New Delhi

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