Govt says it is working to achieve complete ‘Universal Health Coverage’

The focus of the government programmes in this direction has been to reduce the out of pocket spendings by ensuring the strong national immunization system and transformation of primary sub-health centres across India

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New Delhi: The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J P Nadda has expressed the commitment from Modi government to advancing the agenda of Universal Health Coverage in the country while adding that various initiatives have been rolled out to meet this aim.

The Minister while attending the function to observe Universal Health Coverage Day, 2017 stated that this year is significant as the National Health Policy 2017 has been approved which envisages the attainment of the highest possible level of health without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence. The Government has taken concrete steps to reduce the Out Of Pocket Expenditure (OOPE), he added. Mission Indradhanush, one of the largest global public health initiatives was launched in 2014. In its four phases till date, MI has successfully reached over 25 million children in over 528 districts.

“We are also focused on increasing the basket of vaccines. Since 2014, we have launched Rotavirus vaccine, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), and the Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine, and also the JE vaccine for adults, Mr Nadda elaborated. The Pradhan Mantri Dialysis Program has also been launched where 1.43 lakhs patients have availed free services from 1,069 Dialysis Units and under Free Drugs and Diagnostics Program; AMRIT outlets nearly 47 Lakh patients have benefitted from AMRIT Pharmacies through the purchase of subsidized medicines, he added.

Mr Nadda also informed the participants that to provide comprehensive primary care, the Government has announced transforming 1.5 lakh sub health centres to Health and Wellness centres. “The Ministry is now moving towards provision of comprehensive primary care through the Health and Wellness Centres”, he said. He further stated that in a step towards provision of comprehensive primary care, the Government has initiated universal screening of common NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension and common cancers at the sub-centre and Primary Health Centre. “This will enable the strengthening of preventive and promotive health, improve patient referral and access to secondary care services, Mr Nadda added. The Union Health Minister further stated that the government has been at the forefront to strengthen the tertiary care and as such six new AIIMS are functioning and six will come up in due course.

The Union Health Minister and MoS (Finance), S.P. Shukla launched “LaQshya| लक्ष्य’’ – Labour Room Quality Improvement Initiative, a Safe Delivery Mobile Application for health workers who manage normal and complicated deliveries in the peripheral areas, and also released the Operational Guidelines for Obstetric High Dependency Units (HDUs) and Intensive Care Units (ICUs).

There is enough evidence that supports the fact that improving the quality of care in Labour rooms especially on the day of birth, is central to maternal and neonatal survival. Recognizing this fact, Government of India is launching Laqshya- Labor Room Quality Improvement Initiative. LaQshya is expected to improve the quality of care that is being provided to the pregnant mother in the Labour Room and Maternity Operation Theatres, thereby preventing the undesirable adverse outcomes associated with childbirth. This initiative will be implemented in Government Medical Colleges (MCs) besides District Hospitals (DHs), and high delivery load Sub- District Hospitals (SDHs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs). The initiative plans to conduct quality certification of labour rooms and also incentivize facilities achieving the targets outlined. The goal of this initiative is to reduce preventable maternal and new-born mortality, morbidity and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in Labour room and Maternity OT and ensure respectful maternity care.

Present on the occasion were Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO SEARO, Dr B D Athani, Special DGHS, Dr V K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, Mr Manoj Jhalani, AS & MD (NHM), Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative India and Ms Vandana Gurnani, Joint Secretary, along with the Health Secretaries and Mission Directors from the States.