Ayushman Bharat is a Good Start but Nation Need Quality Health Infrastructure

by September 1, 2018 0 comments

Ayushman Bharat is a Good Start but Nation Need Quality Health InfrastructureThe quality of life in a country can be best gauged by its education and health indicators. On health indices, there have been some successes but we still face innumerable, complex challenges.

Ayushman Bharat is a good start for the nation but we need quality health infrastructure too.

Cold facts need to shake us out off our proclivity for politicising and point-counterpointing of something as crucial as healthcare in the country. On the index of global healthcare access and quality, we are 145 among 195, ranking lower than neighbouring Bangladesh and even sub-Saharan Sudan, leave aside BRICS countries. So it is time to look at the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM), the flagship health insurance scheme of the Narendra Modi Government for what it is. And that is setting a new template of inclusiveness by promising five lakh rupees insurance cover to each BPL family across the country. Though popularly touted as Modicare, it is time to look beyond the nomenclature that may make for fancy TV debates over the Centre’s appropriation of responsibility to the detriment of existing initiatives at the State-level in some places and concern ourselves with the imperatives that demand immediate implementation. On its part, the ruling BJP is but expected to claim legacy rights of a programme it rolled out boldly despite criticism, particularly in an election year. Even the Congress continues to tomtom its flagship MNREGA even now and nobody disputes its transformative impact in the countryside. So to lambast it as attempting to drown federal freedoms is going overboard. On its part, the BJP, too, needs to get out of the battle of semantics and not give Opposition states a handle to beat it with.

Some States have a genuine problem of execution. Similar schemes are, in fact, more effective and have been in operation long before. Some of them are mid-term and present logistical problems for a switchover. Besides, States understandably would want to contribute their bit for a populist project that has their own signature rather than dole out 40 percent of the funds for the Central scheme as mandated. It is for this reason that other than Opposition States like Punjab, Bengal and Odisha, many of BJP’s own States like Rajasthan and Maharashtra had initial reservations about the on-ground roll out. Also, the Ayushman plan relies on SECC data as a basis for identifying beneficiaries. Some state schemes have a wider socio-economic coverage. For example in Delhi, with a population of over Rs 1.8 crore, only 20 lakh will be eligible. Does that mean others won’t be entitled to some benefits as well? Odisha, for example, has a State-level scheme that covers more people and Bengal has one of the best healthcare insurance models in the country. But while the former is adamant that its scheme is better, the latter has shown altruistic concern for residents of West Bengal by letting them benefit from both State and Central healthcare schemes. Not only do these and other such health schemes for the poor cover critical diseases, but pre-existing ones too. Healthcare in India is in a shambles and needs a unified involvement of Government, policy makers, private players and stakeholders to develop a sound human resource. A scheme is not enough. There is an urgent need to develop quality infrastructure in the deeper pockets where private hospitals too are wary of venturing simply because they cannot rationalise a low-cost set-up. There is need to incentivise creation of a health network at the grassroots level. At least a start has been made.

Writer: Pioneer

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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