(Hindustan Times)
(Hindustan Times)

Budget 2019: Ayushman Bharat remained highlight of health initiatives by the government

  • PMAJY aims to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families 
  • India’s spending on health continues to be very low with 1.4% of the GDP

New Delhi: The Ayushman Bharat scheme remained the highlight among healthcare initiatives taken by the Narendra Modi-led government during the speech of finance minister Piyush Goyal, who presented the interim budget 2019-20 on Friday.

“We launched the world’s largest health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat because our government empathizes with the pain of the burden of expenditure on medical treatment by poor families," said Goyal.

Goyal said 10 lakh patients have been treated so far under the scheme and highlighted the setting up of new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). There has been a reduction in the cost of cardiac stents, knee implants and other medicines, Goyal stated.

“The government has been providing cheaper drugs through Jan Aushadhi stores. At least 21 AIIMS have been established or are operating, of which 14 have been sanctioned since 2014," he said.

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In the last budget, the BJP government announced one of its most ambitious schemes, Ayushman Bharat, which is a centrally sponsored programme anchored in the ministry of health and family welfare. It is an umbrella of two major health initiatives, the Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY).

The government has promised that nearly 1.5 lakh sub-centres and primary health centres would be transformed as Health and Wellness Centres by 2022 to provide comprehensive and quality primary care close to the community while ensuring the principles of equity, affordability and universality. Till date, 4503 such centres have been operationalized in various states.

PMJAY aims to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families approximately 50 crore beneficiaries, providing coverage up to Rs. 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary hospitalization. PMJAY was launched on September 23, 2018. PMJAY is an entitlement-based scheme. This scheme covers poor and vulnerable families based on deprivation and occupational criteria as per the socio-economic caste census (SECC) data. PMJAY provides cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiary at the point of service in any (both public and private) empanelled hospital across India.

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India’s public spending on health continues to be very low at 1.4% of GDP. Bangladesh spends around 1%. According to the latest annual report of the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, 2017-18, India spends less than some of its neighbours, countries such as Bhutan (2.5%), Sri Lanka (1.6%) and Nepal (1.1%). The budget for the ministry of health and family welfare was 52,800 crore.

The government also launched the National Health Policy 2017 that aims to address the current and emerging challenges necessitated by the changing socio-economic, technological and epidemiological landscape. The major commitment of the NHP 2017 is raising public health expenditure progressively to 2.5% of GDP by 2025.

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