New Delhi: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare today chaired an event to mark Universal Health Coverage Day. Sh. Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare joined the event virtually from Patna.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan started by reminding the audience that COVID19 has greatly magnified the need for building resilient health care systems and ensuring their indiscriminate, equitable access to all. He continued, “We must do away with the status quo that got us here, and settle for nothing less than strong health systems that protect everyone — now and in the future. It has been my long-standing belief that India has the ability to deliver to the world, a robust model for providing Universal Health Coverage.”
Lauding the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi for his conception and implementation of the Ayushman Bharat, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “The over-arching ‘Ayushman Bharat’ program launched in 2018 has completely revolutionized primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare system in the country, with a strong focus on preventive healthcare.”
The Minister noted that through the two wings of Ayushman Bharat, the Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY), the government has been making quality healthcare affordable and accessible for crores of people in the country. He stated, “We have made remarkable progress in operationalizing Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centers and crossed a major landmark in our journey. With 51,500 centers now functional, more than 1/3 of the target has been met. This has led to improved access to affordable primary healthcare services for more than 25 crore people.It is our aim to establish 1.5 lakh such centers by December 2022. This also includes 12,500 AYUSH Health and Wellness Centers being set up by Ministry of AYUSH.”
Dr. Harsh Vardhan took the opportunity to congratulate the States and Union Territories for their efforts in operationalizing Health and Wellness Centers despite the challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic- a massive 30 crore footfall has been recorded at the 51,500 functional centers till date. More than 6.89 crore people have been screened for Hypertension and more than 5.62 Crore people have been screened for diabetes through the HWCs.The HWCs have also conducted over 35 lakh wellness sessions involving activities such as Yoga, Zumba, Shirodhara, Meditation. He also expressed his elation that the Ministry is collaborating with the States/UTs to identify best practices in the rollout of these HWCs.
The Union Health Minister appreciated that more than 1.45 crore cashless treatments have been provided to the poorest citizens under AB-PMJAY and recognized the programme as a huge source of support and security for millions of families reeling under the extreme stress of serious illness. Dr. Harsh Vardhan launched some resourceful apps and guidelines for implementing and monitoring various health programs on the occasion:
The SDG-3 Health Dashboard would enable Policy makers and program implementers, to identify key priorities areas that require action and in framing future action plan for achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
A compendium of Health and Wellness Centers Operationalization which provides an overview of the progress and achievement over the last two years in operationalizing Health and Wellness Centers across the country under the Ayushman Bharat program.
A detailed set of guidelines for Comprehensive Primary Health Care Services for Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT), Eye, Mental Neurological Substance-use (MNS) disorder as well as Jan Aarogya Samiti (JAS) Guidelines. These have been formulated to support the States and UTs to achieve the mandate of providing expanded range of services at functional Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centers
An e-Booklet on key information of ICT interventions by National Health Mission detailing IT initiatives taken up under the National Health Mission. This will serve as a ready reference compendium for all the stakeholders.
The NCD Medical Officer App will ensure that the missing links in the follow up of patients suffering from Non-Communicable Diseases can be established in a more effective way.
Dr, Harsh Vardhan saluted the primary health care workers who have been at the forefront of the battle against COVID19 for rising to this unprecedented challenge and for continuing to serve the society selflessly. He virtually felicitated 1153 primary healthcare workers who have been nominated by the State for their exemplary service.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan also released the 5th National Family Health Survey (NFHS) which contains detailed information on population, health, and nutrition for India and its States and Union Territories. This is a globally important data source as it is comparable to Demographic Health Surveys (DHS) Programme of 90 other countries on several key indicators and can be used for cross country comparisons and development indices.
The present NFHS is being conducted on 6.1 lakh sample households, involving household level interviews to collect information on population, health, family planning and nutrition related indicators. The results of 17 States and 5 UTs (Assam, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal, Mizoram, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu) have been released now as Phase-I. Phase II covering the remaining 12 States and 2 UTs had their fieldwork suspended due to COVID-19, which has been resumed from November and is expected to be completed by May, 2021.
Substantial improvement in maternal and child health indicators over NFHS-4 (2015-16) was recorded in the present survey. The fertility rate has further declined, contraceptive use has increased and unmet need has been reduced in most Phase I states. The survey found considerable improvement in vaccination coverage among children age 12-23 months across all states/UTs. Women’s empowerment indicators (including women with bank account) also portray considerable progress.
Congratulating everyone present on the hard-earned achievements in offering universal health coverage, Sh. Choubey said “The COVID Pandemic has changed people’s perspective and attitude to Healthcare. The foresight of Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi ji had ensured that India was ahead the curve in planning a holistic healthcare system. The footfalls in the AB-HWC system during the Pandemic are a testimony of the system’s resilience.”
Dr. Roderico Orfin, WHO representative was also present in the event along with senior WHO officials. Other development partners like USAID who are helping in the rollout of the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre were also present.
Union Health Secretary Sh. Rajesh Bhushan said that a silent revolution in the Primary Healthcare is happening in the country with the setting up of AB-HWCs.
Ms. Vandana Gurnani, Addl. Secretary and Mission Director, NHM, Sh. Manohar Agnani, Addl. Secretary, Sh. Vishal Chouhan, Jt. Secretary, Smt. Ratna Anjan Jena, DG Statistics and other senior officials of the Ministry were present. Senior government officials serving the various States and UTs joined digitally.