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New Delhi : Union  Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on December 12, 2020, chaired an event to mark Universal Health Coverage Day.  Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, joined the event virtually from Patna.

Dr Vardhan started by reminding the audience that COVID-19 has greatly magnified the need for building resilient health care systems and ensuring their indiscriminate, equitable access to all. He continued, “We must do away with the status quo that got us here, and settle for nothing less than strong health systems that protect everyone — now and in the future.”

Lauding the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his conception and implementation of the Ayushman Bharat, Dr Vardhan said, “The over-arching ‘Ayushman Bharat’ programme launched in 2018 has completely revolutionised primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare system in the country, with a strong focus on preventive healthcare.”

He said that through the two wings of Ayushman Bharat, the Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY), the government has been making quality healthcare affordable and accessible for crores of people in the country. He stated, “ With 51,500 centers now functional, more than 1/3 of the target has been met. This has led to improved access to affordable primary healthcare services to more than 25 crore people.It is our aim to establish 1.5 lakh such centers by December 2022. This also includes 12,500 AYUSH Health and Wellness Centers being set up by Ministry of AYUSH.”

Dr. Vardhan took the opportunity to congratulate the States and Union Territories for their efforts in operationalising Health and Wellness Centers despite the challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic- a massive 30 crore footfall has been recorded at the 51,500 functional centers till date. More than 6.89 crore people have been screened for Hypertension and more than 5.62 Crore people have been screened for diabetes through the HWCs. The HWCs have also conducted over 35 lakh wellness sessions involving activities such as Yoga, Zumba, Shirodhara, Meditation.Th e Union Health Minister appreciated that more than 1.45 crore cashless treatments have been provided to the poorest citizens under AB-PMJAY.

Dr Vardhan launched some resourceful apps and guidelines for implementing and monitoring various health programs on the occasion:

  • The SDG-3 Health Dashboard would enable Policy makers and programme implementers, to identify key priorities areas that require action and in framing future action plan for achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
  • A compendium of Health and Wellness Centers Operationalisation which provides an overview of the progress and achievement over the last two years in operationalising Health and Wellness Centers across the country under the Ayushman Bharat programme.
  • A detailed set of guidelines for Comprehensive Primary Health Care Services for Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT), Eye, Mental Neurological Substance-use (MNS) disorder as well as Jan Aarogya Samiti (JAS) Guidelines.
  • An e-Booklet on key information of ICT interventions by National Health Mission detailing IT initiatives taken up under the National Health Mission.
  • The NCD Medical Officer App will ensure that the missing links in the follow up of patients suffering from Non-Communicable Diseases can be established in a more effective way.

Dr, Harsh Vardhan saluted the primary health care workers who have been at the forefront of the battle against COVID19 for rising to this unprecedented challenge and for continuing to serve the society selflessly. He virtually felicitated 1,153 primary healthcare workers who have been nominated by the State for their exemplary service.