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Wellness centres on the anvil

India committed to achieving universal health coverage, says health minister at Geneva

Union Health Minister JP Nadda, who led the Indian delegation at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, addressed the plenary meeting of the 71st World Health Assembly. He spoke on the theme ‘Health for All: Commit to Universal Health Coverage’.

He said India has fast-tracked initiatives aimed at achieving the tenets of universal health coverage — strengthening health systems, improving access to free medicines and diagnostics and reducing catastrophic healthcare spending.

The government recently launched the Ayushman Bharat programme, which rests on the twin pillars of health and wellness centres, and the National Health Protection Mission for 100 million families (covering 500 million individuals).

“We are reaching out to approximately 40 per cent of the country’s population who will be provided an insurance cover of Rs 500,000 per year. This will be the largest government-funded health protection scheme in the world,” he said.

Nadda told the participants that in line with India’s ambitious plan to end tuberculosis by 2025, the government has started the implementation of a national strategic plan and allocated $550 million.

“Apart from rapid scale up of diagnostics and treatment, we have introduced supplementary nutrition for patients for duration of treatment,” he said.

He also addressed the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly. He spoke about the global fight against non-communicable disease.

He said interventions for prevention and control of NCDs are to be prioritised and are to be integrated at all levels of healthcare delivery systems.

“India’s National Health Policy 2017 commits to achieving a target of raising public health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP in a time-bound manner by 2025 and the government is committed to providing the resources for achieving universal health coverage,” he said.

Nadda also inaugurated a ‘Walk the Talk’ event and gave the call ‘health for all, yoga for all’. n