Joining me in this programme are my colleagues in Union Cabinet, Shri Sadananda Gowda ji, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya ji and Shri Anurag Thakur ji, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Shri Jairam Thakur ji, Chief Minister of Meghalaya Shri Conrad K Sangma ji, Deputy CM Shri Prestone Tynsong ji, Deputy CM of Gujarat, Nitin Patel ji, operators and beneficiaries of the Jan Aushadhi centres from all over the country, doctors and my brothers and sisters!
I congratulate all the colleagues who have received these three important awards -- Janaushadhi Chikitsak, Janaushadhi Jyoti, and Janaushadhi Sarthi!!
I had the opportunity to interact with operators running the Janaushadhi scheme in every nook and corner of the country and some of its beneficiaries. And, it is amply clear from discussion that this scheme is very fruitful for the poor and especially the middle class families. The scheme is becoming a medium of both service and employment. Along with cheaper medicines, the youth are also getting means of income through the Janaushadhi centres.
Making available sanitary pads for just Rs. 2.5 also has a positive impact on the health of our sisters and daughters. So far, more than 11 crore sanitary napkins have been sold at these centres. Similarly, necessary nutrition and supplements for pregnant women are also now being provided at Janaushadhi centres under the 'Janaushadhi Janani' campaign. In fact, there are more than 1,000 Janaushadhi centres which are being run by women. The Janaushadhi scheme is also giving impetus to the self-reliance of daughters.
Brothers and sisters,
The scheme is also helping in providing affordable medicines to the countrymen living in hilly areas, in the North East and in tribal areas. Today the 7500th centre has been launched in Shillong. It demonstrates the expansion of the Janaushadhi centres in the North East.
The milestone of 7500 is also important because there were not even 100 such centres in the country till six years ago. And we want to surpass the target of 10,000 as quickly as possible. I would like to request the state governments and employees of the departments today. The 75 years of independence is an important opportunity for us. Can we decide to have more than 75 Janaushadhi centres in at least 75 districts of the country and that too in a short time? You see, what will be the impact of the expansion.
Similarly, the number of beneficiaries should also be targeted. The target should be to increase the number of beneficiaries to Janaushadhi centres by two to three times. We should work on these two points. The sooner the work is done, the more the poor of the country will benefit. These Janaushadhi centres are saving about Rs. 3600 crores of poor and middle class families every year, and it is not a small sum which was earlier spent on costly medicines. The families are spending 3500 crore rupees for better causes.
The incentive of these centres has also been increased from Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh for rapid spread of Janaushadhi scheme. In addition, an incentive of Rs. 2 lakh is being given separately to Dalits, Adivasis, women and people of the North East. This money helps them to build their stores with necessary furniture, etc. The scheme also opens up a new dimension of possibilities in the pharma sector.
Brothers and sisters,
Today, the demand for Made in India medicines and surgical items has increased. The production is also increasing with the increase in demand. This is also creating a large number of employment opportunities. I am happy that the decision has been taken to make available 75 AYUSH medicines, which include homoeopathy and Ayurveda, in the Janaushadhi centres. The availability of cheap Ayush medicines will not only benefit the patients, but will also help the Ayurveda and Ayush medicine sphere.
For a long time, health was considered only a matter of ailment and treatment in the country's official thinking. But health is not just relief from illness and is not confined to treatment only, but it affects the entire economic and social fabric of the country. More the country's population-- people, women, elderly, young, children from cities or villages – is healthy, the country is equally capable. Their strength is very useful which helps in energizing and taking forward the country.
Therefore, besides increasing treatment facilities, we also put emphasis on problems which cause sickness. This was the thinking behind campaigns like the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, construction of crores of toilets, free LPG connections, Ayushman Bharat, Mission Indradhanush, Poshan Abhiyan across the country. Instead of piece-meal, we worked in a holistic way towards healt.
We made efforts to give yoga a new identity in the world. Today, the International Day of Yoga is being celebrated by the whole world with great gusto. You see it is a matter of pride that when people who were reluctant to consider our decoction, spices and solutions of Ayush, they are proudly offering the same now. After the Corona, the export of turmeric has increased so much that the world felt that India had a lot to offer.
Today, the world is recognizing India’s capabilities, particularly our traditional medicines. Our country has a rich tradition of dozens of coarse cereals like Ragi, Korralu, Koda, Jowar, Bajra which are very useful for health. The last time when I visited Karnataka, our Chief Minister Yeddyurappa ji had put up a huge show of coarse cereals. The small farmers who produce different varieties of nutritious coarse grains had displayed it very prominently. But we know that these nutritious cereals were not encouraged in the country. Such was the mindset that it is meant for the poor who don’t have money.
But, today, the situation has changed suddenly and we have made constant efforts to change the situation. Today, coarse cereals are not only being encouraged, the United Nations has also declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets on India’s initiative. The focus on these coarse grains like millets will also provide nutritious food to the country and also increase the income of our farmers. And now, people even demand coarse grains in the five-star hotels. Gradually, people have started realizing that coarse grains are very useful for health.
Now the UN has also recognized its benefits and the entire world is going to celebrate it throughout the year 2023. Our small farmers are going to benefit mostly because coarse grains are produced by them with great efforts here.
In the last few years, efforts have been made to eliminate all kinds of discrimination in treatment and the treatment has been extended to every poor. The prices of essential drugs, whether it is heart stents, or instruments related to knee surgery, have been reduced manifold. It has led to the saving about Rs. 12,000 crore annually to the people.
The Ayushman Yojana has ensured free treatment upto Rs. 5 lakh to more than 50 crore poor families in the country. So far, more than 1.5 crore people have taken advantage of it. It is estimated that this has also saved about 30,000 crore rupees to the people. If we add the savings made possible due to Janaushadhi medicines and Ayushman scheme and reduction in prices of stents and other equipment, the middle class families are saving about 50,000 crore rupees annually.
It has been proved that India is the pharmacy of the world. The world has been using our generic medicines, but there was a kind of indifference towards them and these were not encouraged. Now, we have emphasised that. We put as much emphasis on generic drugs so that the common man's money should be saved and the disease is also cured.
The world has also experienced the power of India's medicines during the Corona period. Same was the situation in our vaccine industry. India had the capacity to develop vaccines for so many diseases, but lacked the necessary incentives. We encouraged the industry and today the vaccines made in India are saving our children.
The country is proud of its scientists today that we have the Made in India vaccines for ourselves and also to help the world. Our government has taken special care of the poor and the middle class of the country also. Today, vaccination is being done in government hospitals for free. In private hospitals, vaccination is available at only Rs. 250 which is the cheapest in the world. Every day, millions of colleagues are getting India's own vaccines. I have also had my first dose when the number came.
The availability of adequate medical staff is equally necessary along with cheap and effective treatment in the country. Therefore, we began working with an integrated approach by building village hospitals to medical colleges and institutions like AIIMS. As part of it, 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres are being built in villages, out of which more than 50,000 have also started serving. These are not just centres to treat cough and fever, but there is also an attempt to provide facilities for testing of serious diseases. The tests for which one had to go to the cities are now available at these Health and Wellness Centres.
This year's budget has made an unprecedented increase in health and the Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana has been announced for holistic health solutions. A number of provisions like screening centres in each district and critical care hospitals in more than 600 districts have been made. The campaign to improve the health infrastructure of the country is being speeded up to avoid the corona-like pandemic.
Work is underway to build a medical college between the three Lok Sabha constituencies. About 180 new medical colleges have been set up in the last six years. Where there were about 55,000 MBBS seats in the country before 2014, it has increased by more than 30,000 during the last six years. Similarly, PG seats, which used to be 30,000, have added more than 24,000 new seats.
It is written in our scriptures:
'नात्मार्थम् नापि कामार्थम्, अतभूत दयाम् प्रति'
That is, this science of drugs and medicine is only for people with compassion. With this sentiment, the government's effort today is not to deprive anyone of the benefits of medical science. With this mindset, policies and programmes are being formulated today so that treatment is cheap, accessible and for the common people.
With this desire that the network of the Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi scheme reaches out to more and more people speedily, I thank all of you. I would urge the families who have availed the Janaushadhi scheme to inspire maximum people so that they can also take advantage of it. Explain its advantages to people every day. You too should spread it and help and serve others. Be healthy and practice discipline which is very important along with medicines.
I want all the citizens of my country to be healthy because you are a member of my family and you are my family and your disease is the disease of my family. For that, there is a need for cleanliness and following the rules in meals. Do yoga where it is required. Do a little bit of exercises as well and join some Fit India Movement. If we continue to do something for the body, we will definitely avoid sickness and, in case, the disease strikes, the Janaushadhi centre will give us the strength to fight the disease.
With this expectation, I once again thank you all very much and wish everyone all the best.