Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 23rd of September launched the health assurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) or the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ at Ranchi in Jharkhand. He emphasised that the Union Government is working with a holistic approach to improve the health sector in the country with a focus on both “Affordable Healthcare” and “Preventive Healthcare.”
Prime Minister Modi said that the PMJAY has been launched with a vision to provide the poorest of the poor and the underprivileged sections of society, with better healthcare and treatment. He said this scheme, which envisions health assurance of 5 lakh rupees per family per year, will benefit over 500 million people. It is the world’s biggest health assurance scheme. He added that the number of beneficiaries of this scheme is roughly equal to the population of the European Union, or the population of America, Canada and Mexico, combined together.
Explaining how comprehensive the PMJAY is, the Prime Minister said it would cover 1300 illnesses, including serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Private hospitals too would be part of this scheme. The Prime Minister said that the amount of 5 lakhs would cover all investigations, medicine, pre-hospitalization expenses etc. He said it would also cover pre-existing illnesses. He said that people can learn more about the scheme by dialing 14555, or through their Common Service Centre.
For the States that are a part of PMJAY, people can get the benefit of the scheme in whichever of these States they reside in. More than 13,000 hospitals across the country have joined the scheme so far. 10 health and wellness centres were also inaugurated by the Prime Minister. The number of such centres across the country has reached 2300. He said the aim is to have 1.5 lakh such centres in India within four years.
PMJAY is a game changer for the 500 million or so beneficiaries who hitherto could not afford any secondary or tertiary level treatment. It is actually the second tier of Ayushman Bharat, which is a two tier scheme. It will ride on the first tier with a network of 150,000 health and wellness centres (HWCs) that will provide free universal and comprehensive primary healthcare .The HWCs will serve as the awareness, screening and referral link between the patients and PMJAY.
National Health Authority (NHA) has also signed MoUs with a network of common service centres (CSCs). They will implement a beneficiary identification system with the help of 300,000 village-level entrepreneurs. A performance linked payment system has also been designed to incentivise hospitals to improve service quality and patient safety. The hospitals will be reimbursed through the appointed insurance agencies or assurances societies/trusts or even combination of both.
The National Health Authority (NHA) has also been mandated to coordinate programmes through the state governments. Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed with 30 states and Union territories. A cadre of frontline health service professionals called Pradhan Mantri Aarogya Mitras (PMAMs) has been trained to facilitate provision of treatment to beneficiaries in hospitals. PMJAY would herald a new era in India’s healthcare sector by dramatically improving the quality of healthcare for the poor; thereby acting as a catalyst for transformation in terms of affordability, quality and accountability in the health system. It would create jobs both for professionals and non-professionals.
The implementation of a mission of this magnitude is hugely challenging in terms of quality care, efficient operations and overall beneficiary satisfaction. With highly competent and dedicated teams of National Health agencies and State level health agencies, the PMJAY will be a huge benefit for common masses. The Prime Minister deserves to be complimented for strengthening the public-private healthcare participation network for the poor and vulnerable. Through the efforts of all stakeholders involved with PMJAY, and the dedication of the doctors, nurses, healthcare providers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), Auxiliary Nurse-Midwives (ANMs) etc., the scheme could become a huge success.
Script: Yogesh Sood, Journalist.