India launches massive healthcare initiative
A new health reform called ‘Ayushman Bharat’ (Healthy India) aims to deliver free health care for the poorest 40 per cent of the population or 1.25 billion people.
According to Indian government estimates, more than 60 per cent of an average family’s current spending goes on medicines and healthcare. A private consultation can cost 1,000 rupees ($US15) – an enormous amount in India.
A recent report in The Lancet found that substandard healthcare was responsible for an estimated 1.6 million deaths a year in India – the highest in the world.
The new initiative – dubbed the world’s biggest health insurance scheme – will provide low-income families with 500,000 rupees ($US7,100) in annual health insurance to treat serious illnesses.
The government also plans to open 150,000 ‘health and welfare’ centres staffed by nurses, traditional medicine healers and other health workers, by 2020.
However, the scheme has its critics.
Some experts say the scheme focuses too heavily on hospitalisation and not enough on primary health care.
“Putting a high emphasis on expanding inpatient care does not seem appropriate when so many of India’s health priorities – eg, increasing immunisation rates and tackling infectious and non-communicable diseases – would be better dealt with in primary care settings,” the former Director-General of WHO, Gro Harlem Brundtland, wrote in The Lancet.
Political opponents called it an “election gimmick”.
“This is going to be another scam. It will only benefit private insurance companies,” said Sanjay Nirupam, from the country’s opposition, the Congress Party.
Letters to the Editor
Share your thoughts on this article or anything else important to you as nurses and midwives by sending a Letter to the Editor.
Four letters are published in the Lamp each month and the letter chosen as Letter of the Month will win a gift card. Please include a high-resolution photo along with your name, address, phone and membership number. You can submit your letter by emailing the Lamp:email@example.com