Minister Nadda unveils 100-day healthcare agenda: Focus on expansion of coverage under AB PM-JAY

New Delhi: As the newly-elected government embarks on its first 100 days in power, the Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI) has laid out a comprehensive agenda aimed at revolutionizing the healthcare sector and establishing a ‘Healthy India.’ Representing the vast majority of hospitals across the nation, AHPI underscores the importance of focusing on fundamental public health aspects to enhance the well-being of society at large.

Prioritizing Promotive and Preventive Health

AHPI highlights the need for a robust emphasis on promotive and preventive health measures. The agenda advocates for the enhancement of sanitation under the Swachh Bharat initiative, ensuring access to clean drinking water, and improving nutrition with a focus on millets. These foundational public health elements are crucial for preventing diseases and promoting overall well-being.

Strengthening Healthcare Infrastructure

To prevent overcrowding at premier institutes like AIIMS, AHPI proposes a strict referral system. This system would streamline patient flow by ensuring appropriate referrals from sub-centers to primary health centers (PHCs), community health centers (CHCs), district hospitals, medical colleges, and ultimately AIIMS for tertiary-level ailments. This approach aims to improve healthcare delivery efficiency and patient care quality.

The association also urges the fast-tracking of all sub-centers and urban health centers. These centers should provide educational materials on preventive health in local languages and offer screenings for both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Utilizing trained AYUSH doctors for promotive health roles while reserving curative roles for the allopathic stream is another strategic move proposed by AHPI.

Strategic Policy Implementation and Increased Funding

Dr. Girdhar Gyani, Director General of AHPI, emphasizes the necessity of strategic policy implementation and increased funding. He states, “The new government has a unique opportunity to transform India’s healthcare landscape. By focusing on key areas, we can create a robust, efficient, and inclusive healthcare system that ensures the well-being of every Indian.” Emerging health threats such as mental health, geriatrics, stroke, cancer, adult immunization, and the impact of climate change on human health should be prioritized. Government spending on healthcare must increase to achieve universal health coverage and effectively address these pressing issues.

Promoting Fitness and Occupational Health

AHPI suggests a high-intensity promotion of the Fit India Movement to emphasize the importance of physical exercise and yoga. By targeting schools, gram panchayats, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), and enterprises, the movement can strengthen occupational health schemes and foster a fitness culture, thereby enhancing overall population health.

Enhancing Public Health Institute Accountability

Public health institutes must be made accountable and professional. Drawing inspiration from countries where public health facilities are preferred over private ones, AHPI suggests placing these institutes under autonomous state boards. These boards would receive partial funding from the government and generate additional funds independently, ensuring better management and accountability.

Restructuring Ayushman Bharat Yojana

The Ayushman Bharat Yojana, while promising, requires restructuring to reach all beneficiaries identified under SECC-2011 and include senior citizens not covered under other schemes. Addressing issues such as non-viable rates and delayed reimbursements, which cause many private hospitals to opt out of the scheme, is vital for its success.

Addressing Bed Shortages and Specialist Training

India currently has less than two beds per 1000 population, against the WHO norm of 3.5 beds. Incentivizing the private sector to establish tertiary care hospitals in tier-III towns and addressing the shortage of specialists by opening exclusive PG colleges are crucial steps. Promoting the indigenization of high-tech medical equipment and advancing the National Digital Health Mission, including the ABHA card and portability of medical records, can significantly improve the healthcare sector.

Looking Forward

As the Union Budget approaches, AHPI expects significant allocations for the healthcare sector to support these initiatives. The first 100 days of the new government are pivotal in setting the direction for a healthier India. By focusing on these key areas, the government can lay a solid foundation for a robust, efficient, and inclusive healthcare system that meets the needs of all Indians.

With strategic policy implementation, increased funding, and a commitment to fundamental public health principles, India can pave the way for a healthier and more prosperous future. The AHPI’s agenda serves as a roadmap for achieving this vision, ensuring that healthcare remains a top priority in the nation’s development agenda.

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