Lok Sabha Elections 2019: What manifestos of BJP, Congress promise in healthcare sector

  • BJP has promised to take Ayushman Bharat to the next level continuing with it’s mantra of “health for all”
  • Congress has promised that the total government expenditure on healthcare will be doubled to 3% of GDP by 2023-24

New Delhi: Two of the major Indian political parties i.e. Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have floated their agendas for healthcare for upcoming Lok Sabha elections. While the saffron party cashing in on its most ambitious insurance-based health scheme Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) rolled out last year, the Congress has instead contested the insurance model and promised to double up the health budget coupled with free healthcare services.

BJP that released its election manifesto called as Sankalp Patra on Monday has promised to take AB-PMJAY to the next level continuing with it’s mantra of “health for all". The insurance scheme provides an annual health cover of 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. Another part of the AB is health and wellness centres. “We will target provisioning of telemedicine and diagnostic laboratory facilities at these health and wellness centres by 2022 to ensure quality primary medical care to the poor at his doorstep," the manifesto said.

The BJP said it will create an essential devices list and a separate pricing policy for medical devices to ensure their accessibility and affordability to masses.

BJP has also promised to set up one medical college or post graduate medical college in every district, through public or private participation, by 2024. To start with 75 such medical institutes will be set up by 2022. This would ensure availability and accessibility of quality secondary and tertiary medical care to the citizens across the diverse landscape of our country, the party claimed.

When its program Mission Indradhanush has increased immunization among children and pregnant women, the BJP has vouched for full immunization and ending tuberculosis (TB). “We will ensure full immunization coverage for all the children and pregnant women by 2022. Tuberculosis claims more lives every year than any other infectious disease. As on today, more than 25 lakh citizens are suffering from TB while over 3 lakh persons die due to TB every year. The disease mainly affects the poor and malnourished. We have rolled out a special mission to eliminate TB from India by 2025. We will ensure this becomes a success much ahead of the target given in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," the manifesto said.

Congress, on the other hand, has held that full healthcare is the right of every citizen— child, adult and senior citizen. Congress, in its manifesto, has promised that the total government expenditure on healthcare will be doubled to 3% of GDP by 2023-24 which is currently around 1%. The annual budgets will indicate the step up in each year in order to achieve the target in 2023-24, it said.

Challenging BJP’s AB-PMJAY, the Congress said, “We are of the firm belief that the insurance-based model cannot be the preferred model to provide universal healthcare in our country. Congress promises to vigorously promote and implement the free public hospitals-model to provide universal healthcare.

“Congress promises to enact the Right to Healthcare Act that will guarantee to every citizen the right to healthcare services, including free diagnostics, out-patient care, medicines and hospitalisation through a network of public hospitals and enlisted private hospitals," it stated.

Apart from promising to implement the Clinical Establishments Act, 2010, to bring accountability to the functioning of private and public clinical establishments, the Congress has also promised to promote, and eventually mandate, the digitisation of medical records on the foundation of a robust ICT infrastructure with suitable provisions for privacy, mobility and interoperability.

“India’s current doctor to population ratio is 1:1681 and government doctor to population ratio is 1:11,528. Congress promises to increase the number of doctors, including specialist doctors, significantly by establishing more medical colleges, increasing the capacity of medical colleges and providing scholarships and loans to medical students," the Congress manifesto said.

The Congress has said that it will implement the National Mental Health Policy, 2014 and the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 in letter and spirit. “We will ensure that mental healthcare professionals are appointed in all public district hospitals and that mental healthcare services are provided in such hospitals," the manifesto said.

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