Education and health have always been considered as pillars of economic growth and development. An effective public health system that can assure the nation's health requires the consistent and focused efforts of the government. However, weaknesses in India's health infrastructure were clearly demonstrated for a long time, and took considerable effort of the Narendra Modi government to set it on a path of rectification. From lack of hospitals to the communication gap between the centre, state, and health officials made the health system of India cumbersome, uncoordinated, incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate.
With an acute focus on affordable health care, the Modi government has taken the health system of India at all new levels. The total per capita government spending on healthcare has nearly doubled from ₹1,008 per person in FY15 to Rs. 1,944 in FY20. Further, the budget allocation for the Department of Health and Family Welfare surged from ₹37,061 crore in FY17 to ₹65,001 crore in FY21. The priority to health by the present government can also be witnessed when even at less than 500 COVID-19 cases, PM Modi took the drastic decision of enforcing a nation-wide lockdown. While announcing the lockdown, PM Modi said, “Jaan hai to jahaan hai” implying that India can achieve heights only when its citizens are healthy.
With a multisectoral approach, we are focusing in four key pillars of health sector: Preventive Health, Affordable Healthcare, Supply-side interventions, and Mission made interventions.
- PM Modi
Pursuing the Path of Healthcare Progress
To strengthen our health system, the Narendra Modi government has taken several steps in the last six years. Mission Indradhanush was launched in 2014, which was revamped first in 2017-18 for further coverage. Under Modi 2.0, the same has been given an overhaul, and an Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0 was launched in December 2019 with the aim to reach out to partially vaccinated and unvaccinated children. All the available vaccines under Universal Immunization Program (UIP) are meant to target children present across 381 districts in 29 States/UTs. Further, the reach of Mission Indradhanush has been extended by introducing new vaccines such as Rotavirus vaccine, Measles-Rubella, Pneumococcal vaccine, and Inactivated Polio Virus (IPV) vaccine.
During Modi 1.0, Ayushman Bharat was launched with the aim of achieving Universal Health Coverage in 2017. The critical component under Ayushman Bharat is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna or PM-JAY, one of the world’s biggest health assurance schemes that aims at providing a health cover of ₹5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to over 10.74 crores poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) that form the bottom 40% of the Indian population. In April 2020, Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY also included free testing and treatment of COVID-19. As on April 15, 2020, 12.45 crores e-cards were issued, and more than 20,000 hospitals were empanelled. Thousands of stories of people availing the benefits has since become the norm, proving just how successful the scheme.
Considering the importance of antenatal care in improving the new-born and maternal health and wellbeing, PM Modi had launched Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) in 2016. It provides free health check-ups for pregnant women on the ninth of every month. Private medical practitioners do it free of cost at public health care facilities. PMSMA is conducted at over 17,000 health facilities across all State/UTs, and has over 6,000 volunteers registered across all State/UTs. Till December 2019, more than 2.22 crore antenatal check-ups have been conducted at PMSMA sites, and more than 11.75 lakh high-risk pregnancies have been identified. The scheme, by ensuring that all the high-risk pregnancies are identified and treated within the stipulated time, has led to a fall in maternal mortality ratio. Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births) has fallen significantly from 167 in 2011-13 to 122 in 2015-17. Further, the neonatal mortality rate (per 100,000 live births) fell from 28.3 to 22.7 from 2013 to 2018. Also, the national family health survey highlights that there has been a substantial rise in the proportion of women that received antenatal coverage visits in the first trimester.
Understanding the importance of skilled professionals to attend all the pregnancies, there are many other schemes such as Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan Initiative, Mission Indradhanush, POSHAN Abhiyan, and Kilkari that works for the betterment of maternal health by providing women timely guidelines and medications. Also, Mission Parivar Vikas was launched in 2017 to spread awareness of family planning in targeted 146 districts. Additionally, more than 5 lakh doses of injectable contraceptive Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (Antara program) were administered in 2018-19.
Working for Improved Nutrition and Affordable Medicines
The Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY), a DBT scheme for nutritional support, was introduced in April 2018 under the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP). It provides support worth ₹500 per month for the duration of treatment to TB patients. Till July 2019, ₹377.25 Crore has been paid to 24.46 lakhs beneficiaries through DBT since April 2018.
Other areas have not remained untouched. The Rashtriya Kishor Swathya Karyakram (RKSK) was launched in 2014 to cover the health issues of adolescents. A total of 7,947 Adolescent Friendly Health Clinics (AFHCs) has been established till September 2019, through which 56.09 lakh adolescents received counseling and clinical services till December 2019. Moreover, the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme was started as a part of RKSK, whereby 3.43 crore adolescent girls have been covered under this scheme in 2019-20, both through State and Centre's budget. RKSK also includes the Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplementation Programme, which ensured that 3.96 crore adolescent boys and girls, both in and out of school, received IFA supplementation every week till January 2020, combating malnutrition in an effective manner.
The Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) Kendra was launched to make health care affordable. The price of Jan Aushadhi Medicines is lower by 50% and, in some cases, by 80% to 90% of the market price of branded medicines. In the financial year 2019-20, PMBJP has achieved sales of Rs. 433.30 crores (at MRP). This has led to savings of approximately Rs. 3,000 crores of the citizens of the country. Also, AMRIT Pharmacies were launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Health, which sell 202 cancer and 186 cardio-vascular drugs, and 148 types of cardiac implants at very affordable prices. Patients can buy medicines and implants at 50 to 60 percent cheaper than the open market from AMRIT.
Apart from the above policies, PM Modi has also started tree plantation drive, popularised yoga, launching FIT India, among numerous other initiatives to improve the health of the economy at a grass-root level. At the launch of FIT India, PM Modi said, “By exercise, one gets health, long life, strength and happiness. Being healthy is the ultimate destiny, and all other tasks are proved by health.”
Such a brief but exhaustive glance clearly enumerates the careful network of healthcare that has been nurtured over the past six years under Prime Minister Modi’s watchful eyes, with visible improvements in the health of the Indian citizens. Thanks to advances across the spectrum of health and development, average life expectancy has risen from 68 to 69 between 2014 to 2018. Also, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has significantly lowered the open defecation by ensuring rural India becomes 100% free of open defecation, creating significant impacts on other aspects like infant mortality, and the fall in open defecation has led to a reduction in the spread of communicable diseases. This shows how quickly progress can take root when decisive leaders make reliable decisions. The Modi government has not only ensured primary health but is also moving towards universal health coverage. Coupled with an emphasis on preventive care, this shift has set India on the path towards achieving all-around wellness.
Preventive healthcare is easiest and economical. The more we make aware people about preventive healthcare, the more it benefits society
- PM Modi