December 26, 2020
Affordable healthcare and free health insurance are to be extended under this scheme.
Beneficiaries not included under the SECC 2011 database will be accounted for.
Beneficiaries can avail treatment from hospitals across the nation under the scheme.
Accessibility as well as the rural and urban divide in health infrastructure are to be addressed through reforms.
The Ayushman Bharat PMJAY SEHAT (Social Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine) has been launched for the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir by Prime Minister Modi. The scheme is to provide affordable healthcare to the six lakh residents of the UTs and provide free health insurance as well. With a cover of US$ 6811 per family, the scheme will cover 264 hospitals both private and public across the nation. An additional 1.5 million families are also expected to be covered on a need-basis during a limited period pre and post-hospitalisation. A source connected to the initiative has been quoted as saying “The government is collecting details of beneficiary families who may be missing from the SECC (Socio-Economic Caste Census) 2011 database. This will ensure that all beneficiaries are enrolled at the earliest so that they can avail free healthcare services.”
The Indian healthcare system is one with great potential for growth. A NITI Aayog report outlines the four cornerstones of an ideal healthcare system : (i) Universal Accessibility, (ii) Affordability, (iii) Quality of care and (iv) Attention to vulnerable populations. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has put a major strain on healthcare resources around the world, has brought to light the socio-economic and urban-rural fault lines that impair access to quality healthcare. Programmes to increase citizen accessibility irrespective of the locality can be effectively complemented with initiatives to strengthen rural healthcare infrastructure. Inter-State disparities that also exist will require to be tackled through increased public spending by the government. Researcher R Srinivasan in his report ‘Healthcare in India : Vision 2020’ also identifies the gaps that occur in the development and implementation of ventures on the basis of whether the Central or State Government initiated the funding. In addition to funding, the sector would also require technological and infrastructural support to prevent cross-contamination in hospitals. The healthcare sector in India can, in a manner similar to the Pharmaceutical sector, rise to significant strengths through government funding, investments in indigenous R&D and technological infusion.