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New Delhi: Indicating that all upcoming health policies will remain focussed on women, children and youth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the government will increase its public health spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 from 1.15% at present. The Prime Minister was addressing the 2018 Partners’ Forum in New Delhi.

“We are committed to increasing India’s health spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2025, reaching to more than $100 billion," Modi said. “We will continue to work for the betterment of people. Women, children and youth will continue to remain at the heart of every policy, programme or initiative."

Currently, India spends 1.15% of the GDP on health. The Partners’ Forum meet this year focuses on improving multi-sectoral action for results, sharing country solutions and capturing the best practices and knowledge within the health sector, and among other related sectors.

Modi said the Partners’ Forum vision is in line with India’s ancient wisdom of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, or “the world is one family". He said it is also in line with his government’s philosophy of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, or collective efforts and partnerships for inclusive growth.

He said a major effort is required to achieve health targets. “From bigger budgets to better outcomes, and from mind-set change to monitoring, there is lots to be done."

When the millennium development goals were agreed upon, India had one of the world’s highest mortality rates for women and children. “With sustained momentum, and a faster rate of decline during the last few years, India is on course to attain the sustainable development goal (SDG) targets for maternal and child health, much ahead of the agreed date of 2030."

Emphasising the significance of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, the PM said high out-of-pocket expenditure incurred by families to avail medical care was a major worry for the country. “We therefore launched the ‘Ayushman Bharat Yojana’, which has a two-fold strategy. The first is the provision of comprehensive primary care at a facility near the community, including guidance on healthy lifestyle and yoga through health and wellness centres."

The other arm of “Ayushman Bharat" is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, which provides cashless, health insurance cover up to 5 lakh per family, per year, covering 500 million citizens who are the most poor and vulnerable.

“This number is almost equal to the population of Canada, Mexico and the US taken together. We have already provided free treatment worth 700 crore to 5 lakh families under this scheme within 10 weeks of its launch," Modi added.

The Partners’ Forum is co-hosted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Partnership of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). The two-day event brings together more than 1200 participants from 85 countries in New Delhi, to deliberate on issues of health and well-being of women, children and adolescents.

Partners’ Forum is a global health partnership launched in September 2005 to accelerate efforts to reduce child and maternal mortality, improve adolescent, child, newborn and maternal health. This partnership is an alliance of more than 1,000 plus members, across 10 constituencies in 92 countries: academic, research and teaching institutions; donors and foundations; health care professionals; multilateral agencies; non-governmental organizations; partner countries; global financing mechanisms and the private sector.

The previous chapters were held in Johannesburg, South Africa (2014), New Delhi, India (2010) and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2007). This is the second time India is hosting the Partners’ Forum.

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