West Bengal has not withdrawn from Ayushman Bharat officially: NHA
New Delhi: Amid reports that West Bengal has pulled out of the Modi Government's flagship healthcare insurance scheme PMJAY, the apex body responsible for the implementation of the project on Thursday said the Centre is yet to get an official word from the state in this regard.
"Thirty-three states and Union Territories are on board for rolling out the programme and Punjab and Kerala are going to implement it soon. We are yet to have an official word from West Bengal on withdrawing from the programme," CEO of the National Health Authority Indu Bhushan said at the Ayushman Bharat Conclave, a major gathering of healthcare experts and policymakers.
Speaking at the 1st edition of the Conclave, Bhushan noted the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) has already covered 13.5 lakh hospitalizations worth Rs 18,000 crore, effectively allowing one hospitalization every five seconds.
"As PMJAY completes its 157th day today, more than two crore health cards have been issued under the scheme, with the private sector playing a major role in its successful rollout," he said.
Stressing on the importance of the initiative, Bhushan said every year, six crore people fall below the poverty line due to catastrophic health expenditure. Besides, 40 per cent of the poor people do not have access to private healthcare that provides 70 per cent of the services.
The states also have the option to expand the beneficiary base they want to cover and in this way, Ayushman Bharat has the possibility of covering as many as 14 crore families, more than the targeted number, he said.
The ambitious Ayushman Bharat or the National Health Protection Scheme, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September last year, aims to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) by providing health cover up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year.
Presenting a summary of the achievements of the scheme so far, Bhushan said that more than two crore health cards have been issued under the scheme and 92 per cent of the e-cards have been verified through Aadhar while over 6,000 cards issued are portable.
He said that out of the 14,708 empanelled hospitals, 55 per cent are from the private sector taking care of 65 per cent of the treatment needs of the beneficiaries.
"Ayushman Bharat is a great leap towards universal healthcare. It is a gamechanger on the scale of providing services, a more meaningful engagement of private sector hospitals as well as has unique aspects of providing affordable healthcare through collective bargaining of services, consumables, and devices, and providing cash on the delivery of services.
"The programme increases access of the poor to quality, affordable and accountable healthcare and reduces the fragmentation of the services providers public sector providers can refer patients to private hospitals for tertiary services," Bhushan said.
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu, in a video address, said the "most ambitious programme by the Prime Minister which is going to help considerably not only the people of India but also the rest of the world.
"This is the most comprehensive and aggressive programme in which healthcare is made available - hospitalization and medication needs are taken care of."
The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Digital Health Agency, Tim Kelsey, who was also awarded the Torchbearer of the Ayushman Bharat' award, emphasized on paperless healthcare services and increasing the use of technology in providing healthcare services, especially in the rural and remote areas.
"Paper-based healthcare has failed it is not efficient, cannot keep up to the large amount of data and track trends. IT is unable to support precision medicine. We need to work much harder on creating a clinical culture to adopt technology to ensure safety, quality and equity in healthcare. We also need to empower people who now do not question the recommendations of the doctor. Digitizing healthcare will also help it make more accountable and transparent," Kelsey said.
Leading experts in healthcare and policymakers from India and abroad converged at the Conclave to discuss major challenges, opportunities and the way forward towards successful implementation of the Ayushman Bharat, a programme that aims to cover people equal to the total population of America, Canada, and Mexico together.
The conclave held sessions on Resolutions, Possibilities, Actions for an Ayushman India, The Journey towards health protection and Ayushman Bharat: The Local and Global Impact, Operational Perspectives on Securing Health, Capacity Building Challenges at Various Healthcare Levels, Directly from the Experts: The Doctor's Word for Ayushman Bharat, Forecasting demand and ensuring consistent and adequate supply of healthcare services.
The PMJAY has already issued an impressive 1.71 crore e-cards and benefitted over 12.27 lakh patients since it was launched by the Narendra Modi-led government last year.