Pulse

Proof of an Ayushman Bharat is in its implementation, down to the last mile

Amit Mookim | Updated on February 05, 2018

The initiatives launched under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, for instance, will play a critical role in helping the country meet its social development goals.

The government and industry must work to provide access to quality healthcare services

Budget 2018 was presented in the backdrop of huge aspirations of the healthcare industry as we strive to make healthcare accessible and affordable to each and everyone in the country. After decades of independence and despite successfully placing ourselves on the global healthcare map, we still lag behind in addressing healthcare delivery across the length and breadth of the country.

Jaitleyspeak
  • National Health Policy 2017 envisioned 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres to bring healthcare closer to your homes
  • Focus on non-communicable diseases, maternal and health services. Free essential drugs and diagnostic tests. Allocation ₹1,200 crore
  • Flagship National Health Protection scheme to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, meaning 50 crore beneficiaries, by providing ₹5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation
  • These two initiatives under Ayushman Bharat programme will build a new India by 2022

Which is why the theme of healthcare for the poor and underprivileged in this Budget sent out positive signals on many fronts. The initiatives launched under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, for instance, will play a critical role in helping the country meet its social development goals. However, the Central government needs to collaborate successfully with State governments and the industry, besides focussing aggressively on the operational and implementation aspect of these initiatives.

We need to be more realistic and look at capacity-building of the resources at hand during policy formulation to make the desired progress. To achieve sizeable gains, it is important for the government and industry to develop partnerships with the focus on improving the coverage and providing access to quality healthcare services to the people.

In view of the current TB burden in India, a lot needs to be done if we want to eliminate it by 2025. India has the highest burden of both TB and Multi-Drug resistant TB with a huge number of cases that are not notified or remain undiagnosed. The active tuberculosis patients need assessment of their nutritional status at diagnosis and throughout the treatment. The government’s decision to allocate ₹600 crore to provide nutritional support for all tuberculosis patients would mean better cure and higher treatment completion rates and overall better performance status. However, it would be essential for the government to ensure that the money allocated is utilised for the right purpose by the patients.

Furthermore, access to tertiary healthcare in India currently faces a huge challenge, both in terms of infrastructure and qualified medical professionals, especially in rural areas. The move to open one medical college for every three parliamentary constituencies will help in addressing the challenge related to availability of healthcare professionals in hospitals, improve access to healthcare and bridge the demand-supply gap.

Healthcare is a dynamic space which is subjected to change owing to a variety of factors, and one of the key drivers will be the use of technology. The relevance of technology and digitisation is imperative as we look at newer ways of healthcare delivery services. So while the potential is immense, the government now needs to put in strong emphasis on the adoption of technology by the entire healthcare ecosystem to provide accessible and affordable patient care to the last mile of the country.

Amit Mookim is General Manager, South Asia, IQVIA.

Published on February 02, 2018

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