First PM To Prioritise Universal Health Coverage: Lancet Gives Thumbs Up To Modi’s Ayushman Bharat
The Lancet, the noted UK-based medical journal has said that Prime Minister Modi is India’s first prime minister to “prioritise universal health coverage as part of his political platform”.
PM Modi’s initiative-Ayushman Bharat
In an article titled Offline: The new politics of health in India, editor-in-chief of Lancet, Richard Horton mentioned that five of the Lancet’s earlier papers spoke extensively of rapid epidemiological transition in India. The said papers have also identified Ischemic heart disease as the leading reason behind the disease burden in India. The article goes on to state that the number of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases have doubled since 1990 and those with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have increased from 28 million in 1990 to 55 million in 2016. It also said that the number of people suffering from other conditions like diabetes, cancer and mental health emergencies has also seen a steep rise.
The article, however, says that PM Modi-led government has recognised this as a matter of grave concern among the Indian public. It goes to speak highly of the Modi-government initiative “Ayushman Bharat”, which was launched this year. “Ayushman Bharat has two pillars – the creation of 1,50,000 health and wellness centres across the country to provide a spine of primary care facilities to deliver universal health coverage; and the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM), a health insurance scheme aimed at providing coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually, thus benefiting more than 10 crore poor families,” the article said.
“Rahul Gandhi yet to match Modicare”
Horton made a very important observation that when India goes to vote in 2019, the newly elected government will not only set a fresh course for health policy but also have the opportunity to “redefine the idea of India for the new generation”.
Quoting Rahul Gandhi’s arguments about the rampant job crisis in the country, the paper said that there is the health crisis also which needs to be addressed on an urgent basis. It also says that while Gandhi looks forward to proving that Congress has “something new to offer”, so far, he has not been able to match Modicare despite his promises to help the downtrodden and marginalised communities of the society.