New Delhi: The launch of Ayushman Bharat, aimed at achieving universal health coverage, and revision of the MBBS curriculum after a gap of 21 years, stood out for the health ministry in 2018, even as instances of contaminated polio vaccine and faulty Johnson & Johnson hip implants put it on the dock.
The ministry also kicked off the process of restructuring of the scam-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI) and constituted a board of governors to run the regulatory body without waiting for Parliament’s nod to the National Medical Commission Bill which seeks to replace the body to check on the corruption in medical education. The NMC bill is currently pending in Parliament.
The new MBBS curriculum finalised by the Medical Council of India Board of Governors this month includes modules on ethics and communication and will be followed from the 2019-20 academic session.
The passage of the surrogacy bill by the Lok Sabha, despite opposition from some quarters, came as a shot in the arm for the health ministry, which wanted to regulate surrogacy in India by prohibiting its commercialisation and allow only close relatives to act as surrogates to needy infertile couples for “altruistic” reasons.
The ministry launched Ayushman Bharat programme for affordable healthcare in India. It has two pillars.
The first is Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) that aims to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary hospitalization.
Since its launch on September 23, more than six lakh people have availed treatment under the scheme across India.
The second pillar – nearly 1.5 lakh sub-centres and primary health centres will be transformed as health and wellness centres by 2022 to provide comprehensive and quality primary care close to the community while ensuring the principles of equity, affordability and universality.
The year also saw the Cabinet approving the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 for regulation and standardisation of education and services provided by professionals in the healthcare sector.
On the flip side, the outbreak of Nipah and Zika virus cases in some states kept the ministry on its toes.
Further, some vials of oral polio vaccines contaminated with type-2 poliovirus administered to children in Maharashtra and Telangana, besides Uttar Pradesh, caused a lot of embarrassment to the health ministry which ordered the immediate withdrawal of the particular manufacturer’s vaccine and also initiated measures to control the situation.
The case of faulty J&J hip implants drew a lot of criticism forcing the ministry to take action.
The year also saw the ministry notifying the enforcement of the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 that aims to end the epidemic by 2030 and safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV by addressing HIV-related discrimination by bringing in legal accountability and establishing mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
Also, after a long time, the supervisory visit charges for ASHA Facilitators were increased from Rs 250 per visit to Rs. 300 per visit.
With this increase, they will receive about Rs 6000 per month against Rs 5000 per month.