New Delhi: “For India, ‘health’ has never been commerce. Health has always been ‘sewa’ (service),” says Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya. India aims to achieve Universal Healthcare for all by 2030, which is fundamental to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 of good health and well-being and other SDGs as well. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises the central role of primary health care for achieving health and well-being for all, at all ages. On World Health Day, marked annually on April 7, the NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India team spoke to Dr Mandaviya to understand how India plans to achieve the goal of ‘Health For All’.
Talking about focusing on health while leading the G20 presidency this year, Dr Mandaviya said,
India is leading the G20 presidency at a time when the country’s economy is emerging, there is a stable government, and also when India is being praised globally for its Covid management and vaccination drive. If there is any country that has successfully come out of the Covid crisis then it is India.
Dr Mandaviya shared India’s three ‘health goals’ which are a priority at G20 – digital health; pharma counter measures; and emergency preparedness. Dr Mandaviya said,
If any emergency ascends, what kind of preparations the world should do, and what preventive actions should be taken.
Dr Mandaviya emphasised on making healthcare accessible and affordable for all. The Health Minister praised the country for supporting the world in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said,
India provides the cheapest vaccines and fulfills 65 per cent of the world’s vaccine requirement. During Covid, one dose of the vaccine was priced at $15 – $20 but India provided it at $2 – $3.
Further talking about digital health, Dr Mandaviya said that India has tried the amalgamation of health and technology and it’s evident with applications and portals like CoWin and Aarogya Setu. He said,
India was the only country to have digital records of vaccination. During lockdown or travel restrictions across the globe, Indians going abroad would simply show their vaccination certificate on the Co-Win app on their phones. Whereas, people travelling from developed countries to India would bring handwritten vaccine certificate.
According to the health minister India’s achievements and goals in the digital health sector include: as listed by Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya:
- India has developed eSanjeevani platform and provides three to four lakh teleconsultations every day.
- Health and wellness centers in India can connect with district hospitals via teleconsultation and seek expert opinion and advice from surgeons. 100 crore teleconsultations done so far.
- India wants to share healthcare-related research with the world and the research done by other countries should be available for universal use.
I believe that healthcare should be accessible and affordable. For the first time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi connected health with development, and it is because we have to make India a developed country by the time, we celebrate 100 years of independence. And to achieve that, the primary requirement is for the citizens to be healthy. Healthy citizens will build a healthy society and a healthy society will make a developed country.
Mr Mandaviya envisions that even the poorest of the poor should be able to access healthcare services and no poor man should die because of lack of access to medicines.
For this, we started working with a holistic view and approach. Today, there are more than 9,000 government-run Jan Aushadhi Kendra in the country providing quality medicines at a reasonable rate. Every day, on average, 20 lakh people purchase medicines from Jan Aushadhi Kendra because of their quality and price.
The government also runs Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) which provides health protection cover to poor and vulnerable families for secondary and tertiary care. Mr Mandaviya said,
Ayushman Bharat Yojana covers 12 crore families which mean 60 crore people. Additionally, five states provide universal health facilities covering their population which will be 8-10 crore. Government employees and labour too have insurance coverage. This means health has been made accessible to around 70-80 crore people in the country.
Mr Mandaviya added that there is a class of people who can spend money on healthcare. For the “missing middle class”, the government is working to bring a scheme and ensure they get health benefits. He said,
This means, the country has moved ahead in universal healthcare.
While signing off, the Health Minister urged the citizens to look at health holistically and get timely health check-ups done. He said,
I expect our India to be Swasth (healthy) and Samrudh (prosperous). All citizens should join the PM’s efforts of making healthcare accessible and affordable for all.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.