Inspired by the successfully-run cooperative hospitals in Kerala, the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) has come up with a scheme, Ayushman Sahakar, to involve co-operatives in creating healthcare infrastructure.

Under the scheme, to be launched by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday, the NCDC will give loans totalling ₹10,000 crore to prospective cooperatives to set up healthcare facilities.

The NCDC set up under the Ministry of Agriculture in 1963 has, till date, financed various cooperative initiatives aggregating ₹1.57-lakh crore.

“The whole thing was inspired by what successful cooperatives have done in the healthcare sector in Kerala. There are many such hospitals in the State but my favourite is the one in Kochi, which has OPDs even in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” NCDC Managing Director Sundeep Nayak told BusinessLine.

The NCDC has so far financed around 30 hospitals in Kerala and a total of 52 across the country, with a cumulative bed strength of over 5,000. Unlike in the past, the NCDC would support not just bedded facilities under this scheme but also cover all aspects of healthcare that come under the World Health Organization classification, including Indian systems of medicine, said Nayak.

“We will be covering Ayush, homoeopathy, drug manufacturing, drug testing, wellness centres, Ayurveda massage centres, and drug stores. We would also support education initiatives such as medical and dental colleges and those offering nursing and paramedical education. The only thing is that they should be a cooperative,” the NCDC chief said.

“Even if doctors come together to form a cooperative and start a hospital or a centre with physiotherapy services, we would be able to support them,” he said.

Affordable care

One of conditions for getting credit under the Ayushman Sahakar scheme is that members of a cooperative facility should be given services at discounted rates.

In line with the National Digital Heath Mission launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this Independence Day, Ayushman Sahakar will bring a transformation in rural areas, Nayak said. By virtue of their strong presence in rural areas, cooperatives should be able to revolutinise comprehensive health care services, he felt.

Working capital and margin money to meet operational requirements will be available under scheme. Interest subvention of one per cent is available to women-majority cooperatives.

According to Nayak, the NCDC launched a cooperative start-up scheme, Yuva Sahakar, two years ago. Under this scheme, cooperatives that are just three months old can get funding from the NCDC.

“As our original guidelines go, a cooperative has to be three years old for getting NCDC finance, for this start-up scheme. So, this is a great scheme for start-ups. Besides, if these start-ups are founded by women or those with disabilities, they would get an interest subvention of 2 per cent,” Nayak said.