The Government of India is cognizant that primary Health Care is currently focusing largely on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) and communicable diseases. This poses a challenge given the epidemiological transition, where non-communicable diseases accounts for nearly 62% of deaths among men and 52% among women – most of which are premature in nature. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that there is low utilization of public health system, especially at the level of Community Health Centre (except for child birth related services). There is lack of effective gate-keeping and referral, leading to fragmentation of health care services. Families are forced to incur high out of pocket expenditure thereby leading to impoverishment and poverty on account of medical and hospitalization expenses.
Health is an important cornerstone to the Government’s vision of development, ‘Swasth Bharat, Samriddha Bharat (Healthy India, Prosperous India). To fulfil the vision of Health for All and Universal Health Coverage, enshrined in the National Health Policy 2017, the Government conceived Áyushman Bharat’ (Healthy India), a pioneering initiative led by Hon’ble Prime Minister.
Ayushman Bharat (AB) is an attempt to move from sectoral and segmented approach of health service delivery to a comprehensive need-based health care service. Ayushman Bharat aims to undertake path breaking interventions to holistically address health (covering prevention, promotion and ambulatory care), at primary, secondary and tertiary level. Ayushman Bharat adopts a continuum of care approach, comprising of two inter-related components.
The first component, pertains to creation of 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres which will bring health care closer to the homes of the people. These centres will provide Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC), covering both maternal and child health services and non-communicable diseases, including free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The first Health and Wellness Centre was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister at Jangla, Bijapur, Chhatisgarh on 14 April 2018. The second component is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) which provides health protection cover to poor and vulnerable families. The Health and Wellness Centres will play a critical role in creating awareness about PM-JAY, screening for non-communicable diseases, follow-up of hospitalisation cases among others.
These two far-reaching initiatives under Ayushman Bharat will build a New India 2022. This path-breaking initiative, which will be implemented at an unprecedented scale will bring a paradigm shift in India’s health sector. It will help India capitalize its demographic dividend, ensure enhanced productivity, well-being and avert wage loss and impoverishment.