A noted UK-based medical journal has said that PM Narendra Modi is India’s first Prime Minister to prioritise universal health coverage (UHC) as part of his political platform under the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme.
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the ‘The Lancet’, said the prime minister has grasped the importance of health not only as a natural right of citizens, but also as a political instrument to meet the growing expectations of the emerging middle class of India, which is engulfed in a “swirling epidemic of non-communicable diseases”.
“After years of neglect, the Indian Government has at last recognised the perils of public discontent about health. Under a new initiative called Ayushman Bharat launched this year, Prime Minister Modi has implemented two new flagship programmes. 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 aimed at providing coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually, thus benefiting more than 10 crore poor families,” said the article.
“Together, these twin programmes should improve access to quality health services and reduce out-of-pocket health expenditures,” it said.