While making the official announcement of the annual budget of 2018, the Government has announced two major initiatives in the health sector, as part of Ayushman Bharat programme. The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitely, while presenting the General Budget 2018-19 in Parliament here today, said that this was aimed at making path-breaking interventions to address health holistically, in the primary, secondary and tertiary care systems, covering both prevention and health promotion.
The initiatives are as follows:
(i) Health and Wellness Centre: The National Health Policy, 2017 has envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India’s health system. Under this, 1.5 lakh centres will bring healthcare system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive healthcare, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services. These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The Budget has allocated Rs.1,200 crore for this flagship programme. Contribution of private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres is also envisaged.
(ii) National Health Protection Scheme: The second flagship programme under Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. This will be the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme.
The Finance Minister further said that these two health sector initiatives under Ayushman Bharat Programme will build a New India 2022 and ensure enhanced productivity, wellbeing and avert wage loss and impoverishment. These schemes will also generate lakhs of jobs, particularly for women.
Also, in order to further enhance accessibility of quality medical education and healthcare, 24 new Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals will be set up, by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country. This would ensure that there is at least 1 Medical College for every 3 Parliamentary Constituencies and at least 1 Government Medical College in each state of the country.