Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Saturday chaired an event to mark Universal Health Coverage and emphasised that Covid-19 has greatly magnified the need for building resilient health care systems and ensuring their equitable access to all without discrimination.
“We must do away with the status quo that got us here and settle for nothing less than strong health systems that protect everyone – now and in the future. It has been my long-standing belief that India has the ability to deliver to the world, a robust model for providing Universal Health Coverage,” the health minister said.
Lauding the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his conception and implementation of the Ayushman Bharat, Dr. Vardhan said, “The over-arching ‘Ayushman Bharat’ programme launched in 2018 has completely revolutionised primary, secondary and tertiary health care system in the country, with a strong focus on preventive healthcare.”
The Minister noted that through the two wings of Ayushman Bharat, the Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY), the government has been making quality healthcare affordable and accessible for crores of people in the country.
He stated, “We have made remarkable progress in operationalising Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres and crossed a major landmark in our journey. With 51,500 centres now functional, more than 1/3rd of the target has been met. This has led to improved access to affordable primary healthcare services for more than 25 crore people.It is our aim to establish 1.5 lakh such centres by December 2022. This also includes 12,500 AYUSH Health and Wellness Centres being set up by Ministry of AYUSH.”
He also congratulated the states and Union Territories for their efforts in operationalising health and wellness centres despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic – a massive 30 crore footfall has been recorded at the 51,500 functional centres till date.
More than 6.89 crore people have been screened for hypertension and more than 5.62 Crore people have been screened for diabetes through the HWCs.
The HWCs have also conducted over 35 lakh wellness sessions involving activities such as Yoga, Zumba, Shirodhara, meditation. He also expressed his elation that the Ministry is collaborating with the States and UTs to identify best practices in the rollout of these HWCs.
The Union Health Minister appreciated that more than 1.45 crore cashless treatments have been provided to the poorest citizens under AB-PMJAY and recognised the programme as a huge source of support and security for millions of families reeling under the extreme stress of serious illness.
Vardhan launched apps and guidelines for implementing and monitoring various health programmes on the occasion.
One of these is the SDG-3 Health Dashboard which would enable policy makers and programme implementers to identify key priorities areas that require action and in framing future action plan for achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Another is a compendium of Health and Wellness Centres operationalisation which provides an overview of the progress and achievement over the last two years in operationalising Health and Wellness centres across the country under the Ayushman Bharat programme.
A detailed set of guidelines for Comprehensive Primary Health Care Services for Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT), Eye, Mental Neurological Substance-use (MNS) disorder as well as Jan Aarogya Samiti (JAS) Guidelines were also launched.
These have been formulated to support the States and UTs to achieve the mandate of providing expanded range of services at functional Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centers
The NCD Medical Officer App was also launched to ensure that the missing links in the follow up of patients suffering from Non-Communicable Diseases can be established in a more effective way.
Dr. Vardhan also released the 5th National Family Health Survey (NFHS) which contains detailed information on population, health, and nutrition for India and its States and Union Territories. This is a globally important data source as it is comparable to Demographic Health Surveys (DHS) Programme of 90 other countries on several key indicators and can be used for cross country comparisons and development indices.
Dr. Roderico Orfin, WHO representative was also present in the event along with senior WHO officials. Other development partners like USAID who are helping in the rollout of the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre were also present.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that a silent revolution in the Primary Healthcare is happening in the country with the setting up of AB-HWCs.
Ms. Vandana Gurnani, Additional Secretary and Mission Director at NHM, Manohar Agnani, Additional Secretary Vishal Chouhan, Joint Secretary, Ratna Anjan Jena, DG Statistics and other senior officials of the ministry participated in the event.