“Last 3 years have seen concrete steps that have transformed people’s lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Friday, summing up his government’s achievements on the completion of three year in office.
For the healthcare sector, the past three years saw a slew of measures being undertaken to help make healthcare more affordable with sharp focus on empowering citizens to access quality healthcare services using better mobile and internet connectivity; policy interventions to reduce cost of medicines and medical equipment; and bringing more people under the health insurance net, benefiting millions of patients across the country during the process.
A little over a year in office, the Modi government successfully lobbied to get the United Nations declare June 21 as the International Yoga Day. The mass yoga performance, led by the Prime Minister himself, attracted the world’s attention when it set the record of most number of people participating in such an event. The event achieved two things — it reinforced India’s image as the world’s leading soft power and furthered the government’s aim to promote healthy lifestyle in a country that is grappling with the serious challenges posed by lifestyle diseases.
A slew of schemes including affordable health insurance coverage and the Jan Aushadhi Yojana for retail sales of generic drugs were introduced in the last two years to make healthcare more affordable.
To help digitise healthcare system in order to bring more transparency, awareness and easy accessibility of quality healthcare to the masses, the government has initiated National Health Portal and digitisation of government hospital services under the ‘Digital India Mission’. Keeping up with the technological transformation impacting the delivery of services in the country, various mobile apps like ‘NHP Indradhanush’, ‘NHP Swasthya Bharat’ and ‘Mera Aspatal’ were launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The immunisation programme, Mission Indradhanush, has been successful in reaching to crores of children, ensuring they are fully immunised. The ministry in a twitter on Friday said that there has been a 6.7 per cent increase in the coverage under the programme as compared to 1 per cent in 2014.
The government has also opened 83 outlets under the Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) programme, serving close to 18 lakhs of patients in three years. According to the health ministry, the AMRIT programme has saved Rs 103.55 crores to the patients, as “medicines and implants worth Rs 175. 23 crores were sold for less than Rs 71.67 crores”.
Perhaps the biggest achievements for the government in the healthcare sector came in the form of National Health Policy and Medical Devices Rule in 2017. Both these policy intervention are set to transform the Indian healthcare sector, making the delivery of services more affordable and inclusive.
The National Health Policy looks at problems and solutions holistically with private sector as strategic partners. It seeks to promote quality of care. The focus is on emerging diseases and investment in promotive and preventive healthcare. The policy is patient centric and quality driven. It addresses health security and ‘Make in India’ for drugs and devices.
In order to provide access and financial protection at secondary and tertiary care levels, the policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals.
In order to leverage the pluralistic health care legacy, the policy recommends mainstreaming the different health systems. Towards mainstreaming the potential of AYUSH, the policy envisages better access to AYUSH remedies through co-location in public facilities. Yoga would also be introduced much more widely in school and work places as part of promotion of good health.
As the government has been opening new AIIMS, the latest being approved by the Cabinet in Assam, to address the need for quality health institutions across the country, it would be too early to conclude that India will soon be able to overcome all the challenges. However, it is clear that the Modi government at the centre is committed to the cause of creating a healthy India and the steps it has taken so far will go a long way in ensuring that.