What has been the mandate, the motto of our Government? It’s the altruistic and encompassing ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’. By ‘Sabka Sath’; our benevolent Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji envisages ‘Antyodaya’, where the empowering rays of opportunity reach the most deprived people i.e. the poor, marginalised and other vulnerable sections of the society.
Health is a basic human need. Healthy people are more productive, enabling them to earn and save more, therefore contributing to the nation’s prosperity. Thereby to shape a holistically productive and developed nation, the health of all its citizens especially those in need of it the most, those most vulnerable, is a priority, a focus of our governments ‘Antyodaya’. We at the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare are making concerted efforts to achieve this vision by working tirelessly to improve health care systems and services towards providing a better quality of care to people.
Health infrastructure in the country has had an history of being skewed in both distribution and reach. The prime requisites of providing healthcare services to the farthest corners of the country are manpower and infrastructure. Our government has been trying earnestly to correct this imbalance through Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) which envisages creation of tertiary healthcare capacity in medical education, research and clinical care, in the underserved areas of the country. We have already started the process to establish 11 new AIIMS in addition to 6 already established in our previous term. In addition, super specialty blocks are being set up in 70 medical colleges. 2 National Cancer Institutes, 20 State Cancer Institutes and 50 Tertiary Cancer Care Centres are also being set up. Also 58 New Medical Colleges are to be attached with existing District/ Referral hospital. Furthermore, through a historic decision, an all-time record number of over 4,000 PG medical seats have been recently approved in various medical colleges and hospitals for the academic session 2017-18, taking the total number of PG seats available to 35,117. The step has no parallel in indian history and this initiative itself will go a long way in correcting the shortage of doctors in the country.
The above mentioned important factors are followed by the need to care for the high Out Of Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) on Health realted needs. Studies have shown that OOPE has the potential of being ‘catastrophic’ on a family’s economic status. Many people fall below th poverty line due to sudden illness in the family. To address this, we have started AMRIT (Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment) outlets to make available Cancer and Cardiovascular drugs and implants at reasonable prices. AMRIT pharmacy reflects the Government’s strong commitment to reduce the cost of treatment for the patients by up to 90%. We have been able to serve 10.14 lakh patients and have sold medicines with MRP ₹ 101.83 crore at ₹ 40.48 crore thus effecting a saving of ₹ 61.34 crore to the patients. Needless to say, this initiative has slashed the prices of medicines for the rural populace by nearly 50-60%. Ceiling prices have also been fixed and notified for Coronary Stents to ₹ 7260 for ‘Bare Metal Stents’ and ₹ 29,600 for ‘Drug Eluting Stents (DES) including metallic DES and Biodegradable Stents, leading to deduction in stent prices by up to 85%.
When we talk about reaching out to the unreached and the most vulnerable we need to harness each and every resource available to us. Under the prudent leadership of our Prime Minister and his visionary Digital India campaign, we are promoting the use of IT in health and are striving to use this as a force multiplier in healthcare services delivery. The National Health Portal (NHP) was launched to serve as a single point of access for consolidated health information for citizens. Similarly, due to the widespread popularity of mobiles phones across India, the “Swasth Bharat Mobile Application” was launched to enable people to access reliable and relevant health information regarding healthy lifestyles, disease conditions, symptoms, treatment options, first aid and public health alerts. The multi-lingual app called ‘Mera Aspataal (My Hospital)’ captures patients’ feedback (now available in 75 facilities) towards hospitals to improve their services. There are disease-specific initiatives too, such as M-Diabetes, India fights Dengue which provide information through missed call to a designated number or as an app towards disease prevention and management. There are several others apps and services viz. Kilkari, Mobile Academy (anytime, anywhere audio training course on interpersonal communication skills for ASHA & ANMs), ANMOL (ANM Online – enable ANMs to update MCH data), ORS (Online Registration System – started in 63 hospitals and till date more than 6 lakh E-hospital appointments and more than 49 lakh online registration based appointments done), , 99DOTS, SUGAM (for the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) for processing applications for import, registration of drugs, and permits to import small quantities of drugs for personal use etc), E-CGHS card (enables self-printing of CGHS cards from any location), Tele-Evidence initiative for recording evidences through video-conference (started in PGIMER Chandigarh in December 2015) etc. We are further utilizing technology for establishing National Medical College Network (NMCN) wherein 41 Government Medical Colleges are being networked in the first phase riding over NKN (National Knowledge Network – high speed bandwidth connectivity) with the purpose of e-Education and e-Healthcare delivery.
The Government has shown faith in all the efforts of MoHFW and to further encourage us and staying true to the commitment of better health of its citizens, the budget allocation for MoHFW has been increased by 27% in the Union Budget 2017. This signals that health is on the priority agenda of the government led by Shri Narendra Modiji. With this we have been infused with a renewed vigour and are now focussing and working towards strengthening comprehensive primary care that would go beyond RCH and communicable diseases and would include screening of NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension and common cancers at the sub-centre and Primary Health Centre. Such an approach would benefit the entire population and shift the focus from ‘sick care’ to ‘health care’ while reducing the need for hospitalization/ tertiary care. The plan is to transform 1.5 lakh Health Sub Centres into Health & Wellness Centres, geared to hoolistic health needs for the populace.
The Prime Minister has tirelessly worked for the welfare of the people of the country and three years of the NDA Government has shown this through the various people-centered schemes rolled out. The Health Ministry is committed to quality healthcare of the people, striving for their amelioration. We are and remain earnest and dedicated in our efforts to contribute to this Government’s overarching promise of ‘Antyodaya’ to its people.
(Jagat Prakash Nadda is an Indian politician. He is currently the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and member of Rajya Sabha from Himachal Pradesh and Parliamentary Board Secretary of Bharatiya Janata Party. Earlier, he was a Minister in Himachal Pradesh Government.)
The views expressed above belong to the author(s).