In the series on the performance of various ministers in the Modi government, today we take a look at the health ministry.
Health is probably the biggest concern which anyone has today. Be it families or the government, everyone strives for personal health, and government works towards a healthy society because without having a healthy population, a nation can’t succeed. Modi government has probably done the biggest health intervention in India since independence, by launching Ayushman Bharat, which takes healthcare to the poorest of the poor, and taking the worries of medical bills of their head. Modi government has launched many such initiatives to ensure healthy India, which we would look at however, a little bit about JP Nadda, the man overseeing Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Jagat Prakash Nadda is from the state of Himachal Pradesh, though he was born and brought up in Patna, and studied there up to his graduation, where his father was a professor, and later became VC of Patna University. He was also active in ABVP in his student days. He shifted his base to Himachal Pradesh which was his home state, to pursue his LLB from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla where he continued his association with ABVP, and subsequently with BJYM. He was first elected to Himachal Pradesh Assembly in 1993, and reelected in 1998. He was group leader of BJP in his first term as MLA. He was again elected as MLA in 2007 assembly elections. He however shifted his base to New Delhi in national politics in 2010, and was elected as Rajyasabha MP in 2012. He was inducted as Minister for Health and Family Welfare, in the first reshuffle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet. Let’s have a look at his tenure as Minister for Health and Family Welfare.
Ayushman Bharat – Ayushman Bharat is one the world’s largest public health initiative taken by the Modi government, to take care of the medical expenses of the poor in the country. Under this scheme, every family identified as poor in 2011 census (approximately 50 crore people) are eligible to get free treatment in all the government, and most private empanelled hospitals up to Rs 5 lakh, every year. This scheme isn’t a dole, where the government is spending from its own coffers, but the government has paid the insurance premium, for such poor families under which they are given medical insurance of Rs 5 lakh every year.
The cost of the premium is shared by the central and respective state governments, in the ratio of 60:40. However some opposition-ruled states like Delhi and West Bengal have not joined the scheme, and deprived poor’s of their state the benefit just because the scheme is named as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna – Ayushman Bharat, and they feel Prime Minister Modi will get all the credit for the scheme.
It is pity on the parts of these states, to deprive poor benefits of such a good scheme, just because it has been initiated by the political leader, whom they oppose. According to recent numbers, this scheme has benefitted nearly 7 lakh beneficiaries in first 100 days of the launch of the scheme.
Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest man and philanthropist congratulated Modi government by tweeting about it.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 17, 2019
AIIMS in every state – BJP had promised in its election manifesto to build an AIIMS in every state of India, so poor of these states aren’t deprived of availing world-class health facilities at cheaper rates and also helping decongestion of Delhi AIIMS. This decision was a continuation of the initiative taken by Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, which had set up 6 AIIMS at Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh. These AIIMS had started functioning from 2012. Accordingly, the Narendra Modi government has decided to set up AIIMS in a phased manner in all the states. 13 more AIIMS have been approved by Modi government till now which include Raibareli and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Vijaypur and Awantipora in Jammu and Kashmir, Kalyani in West Bengal, Bhatinda in Punjab, Changsari in Assam, Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh, Madurai in Tamilnadu, Darbhanga in Bihar, Deoghar in Jharkhand, Rajkot in Gujarat and Hyderabad in Telangana. Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have got two AIIMS because of the bigger geographical area of the states. AIIMS at Nagpur (Maharashtra) and Managalagiri (Andhra Pradesh) have started functioning out of temporary campuses in 2018.
The total number of proposed and functioning AIIMS as of now stands at 24. After all the AIIMS are established, the number of AIIMS in the country will go up to 32. Establishment of AIIMS will serve the people in every nook and corner of India, as they won’t have to travel far for quality treatment. It would also increase medical seat intake in the country, and produce quality doctors. Starting new AIIMS is a part of Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, which also envisages upgradation of existing Government Medical Colleges (GMCs), to further strengthen medical facilities. Accordingly, 73 GMCs are being upgraded under this scheme.
Mission Indradhanush – Mission Indradhanush was launched in December 2014. It aims to immunize all children under the age of 2 years, as well as all pregnant women, against seven vaccine-preventable diseases. The diseases being targeted are diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, measles and Hepatitis B. In addition to these, vaccines for Japanese encephalitis and Haemophilus influenza type B are also being provided in selected states. In 2016, four new additions have been made namely Rubella, Japanese Encephalitis, Injectable Polio Vaccine Bivalent and Rotavirus. In 2017, Pneumonia was added to the Mission by incorporating the Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine under the Universal Immunization Program.
Immunization Program in India was introduced in 1978 as ‘Expanded Program of Immunization’ (EPI) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. In 1985, the program was modified as ‘Universal Immunization Program’ (UIP) to be implemented in a phased manner to cover all districts in the country by 1989-90 with the one of the largest health program in the world. Despite being operational for many years, UIP was able to fully immunize only 65% children in the first year of their life. To strengthen and re-energize the program and achieve full immunization coverage for all children and pregnant women at a rapid pace, the Modi Government launched “Mission Indradhanush” in December 2014. The ultimate goal of Mission Indradhanush is to ensure full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women.
The Government has identified 201 high focus districts across 28 states, in the country that have the highest number of partially immunized and unimmunized children. Earlier the increase in full immunization coverage was 1% per year, which has increased to 6.7% per year through the first two phases of Mission Indradhanush. Four phases of Mission Indradhanush have been conducted till August 2017, and more than 2.53 crore children and 68 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated.
E Raktkosh – Blood availability for patients is a major issue in the country. While needy patients don’t get blood on time due to various reasons including running around for blood in absence of clear information on blood availability, while lakhs of blood bags are wasted every year in the country as they get expired. To overcome this problem government has launched a web and app-based portal called www.eraktkosh.in, which shows the live status of blood availability across all blood banks of the country. One can simply login on the portal or app, and see the availability status of needed blood group or blood components saving precious time in running around looking for the blood in critical times.
Pradhanmantri National Dialysis Program – Kidney diseases are increasing in day by day in the country. Kidney failure results in need of dialysis for the patients. This treatment is quite costly, costing on an average of Rs 2000 per session which results in huge (approximately Rs 4 lakh per year expenditure for patients. Identifying the need, government has started free dialysis program for the patients in PPP mode, where provision of dialysis is available at around 500 district hospitals in the country. Till March 2018, about 2 lakh patients availed treatment under this scheme.
Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) – PMSMA was launched in November 2016 to provide assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care, free of cost, universally to all pregnant women on the 9th of every month. PMSMA guarantees a minimum package of antenatal care services, to women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy at designated government health facilities. Under this scheme, more than 1.16 crore antenatal check-ups have been conducted at over 12,900 health facilities across all states and union territories. More than 6 lakh high-risk pregnancies were identified and were provided all possible care.
Primary Health Centres (PHCs) to be transformed into Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) – Government has announced to transform over 5 lakh health sub centres into Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs). These HWCs will provide comprehensive primary health care package which includes in addition to primary health care, geriatric health care, palliative care and rehabilitative care services.
Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 – Modi government promulgated this act which adopts a rights-based statutory framework for mental health in India, and strengthens equality and equity, in provision of mental healthcare services, to protect the rights of people with mental health problem, to ensure that they are able to receive optimum care, and are able to live a life of dignity and respect.
Overall this government has taken a leap forward, in the goal of having a healthy country. However, one can only pity Rahul Gandhi, when he says, we will scrap Ayushman Bharat if voted to power. Rahul Gandhi should answer, if he wants to scrap Aysuhman Bharat, what better alternative he has to treat poor people of India, and if he has any alternative, he should present it to the nation. If he doesn’t have then he should say it on record that, by scrapping Ayushman Bharat, he would leave poor people to die in absence of medical treatment or let them crowd in a very few government hospitals, this country has.
The author is journalism pass out from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. After dangerously flirting with the idea of left during his IIMC days, due to the proximity of the IIMC with JNU, a den of radical leftists, he became firmly aligned to right after realizing the futility of the left. He tweets at @kpophale.