Ayushman Bharat Initiative: India’s Answer to Universal Health-Care
India, the 6th largest economy and largest democracy of the world has been improving its health care facilities slowly since last few decades. Doubling the life expectancy from 31 years in 1947  when India got its independence from the British rule to 68.3 years in 2017 , the Indian government has been doing a good job; however it is still quite less as compared to the western world.
Furthermore, the per person burden of the disease, measured as disability-adjusted life year (DALY) rate, has substantially dropped by 36% from 1990 to 2016. Following western world’s trend in terms of disease burden, non-communicable diseases (Ischemic heart disease being the number one culprit, followed by chronic pulmonary obstructive disease) and injuries together have surpassed the infectious and childhood diseases . The number of diabetics has increased to 65 million in 2016 from 26 million in 1990  while the prevalence rate of patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has rose to 55 million (2016) from 28 million (1990) . The incidence of all cancers also rose by 28% between 1990 and 2016 (majority of the cases were associated with tobacco smoking) . India also accounts for nearly 1/3rd of total global suicidal rates (37% amongst women and 24% amongst men) majority of them being in 15-39-year-old group . However, tuberculosis, iron-deficiency anemia, lower respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, and neonatal disorders still persist to be major public health hurdles in many parts of the country .
In terms of Health-Care Access and Quality (HAQ), India still stands at 145th position (amongst 195 countries) lagging way behind than most of the countries including its neighbour Bangladesh which stands at 133rd position . The major key-role playing factor in HAQ rankings, is the Universal Health Care Programme and health-schemes which are initiated and ran by the government. India, though have few health related schemes in order to improve the access to the health care for majority of its public, is still yet not efficient enough as it can be observed by the rankings. However, recently the Modi-led Indian government has understood the sheer need and importance of bolstering the health of its citizens and to provide universal health care.
“Ayushman Bharat Initiative” also known as Modicare or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana launched on 1st February, 2018 by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi comprised of two schemes: a) developing 1.5 lakhs (0.15 million or 150 000) health and wellness centres across the country to provide universal health care coverage, and b) National Health Protection Scheme which shall cover over ten crore poor families (approximate 50 crores or 500 million of beneficiaries) providing up to five lakhs rupees (6 935 USD or 5 325 Pounds Sterling) per annum per family for secondary and tertiary hospitalisation, making it the world’s largest state funded health programme .
This masterstroke initiative shall improve the access to quality health services and help fulfilling Modi's stated goal to build a new India by 2022  supplementing its economic progress.
Thank you, Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Modi, for providing Indians what they truly deserve: A possibility of good health!
Dr. Varshil Mehta
Editor in Chief, Journal of Medical Research and Innovation
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