by Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya
India, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, started the Ayushman Bharat program in 2018 according to the National Health Policy of 2017 to address the crucial need for Universal Health Coverage. It aims to provide comprehensive healthcare services for everyone, no matter where they live or their economic status. Ayushman Bharat shifts from segmented healthcare to a holistic, need-based approach. It covers prevention, promotion, and care across primary, secondary, and tertiary levels through Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs) and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
But it is not just about creating a healthcare program; the goal is to make sure everyone in India benefits from it. That is where the new campaign, Ayushman Bhav, comes in. Ayushman Bhav was launched by the President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu, on September 13, 2023, focusing on saturated coverage with awareness about PM-JAY, creating Ayushman Bharat Health Account IDs, and providing various health services, including disease screenings and management of multiple illnesses, such as tuberculosis, hypertension, Sickle Cell disease, diabetes, etc. in our villages as well as in urban wards.
Ayushman Bhav’s primary mission is to reach over 6.45 lakh villages and 2.55 lakh Gram Panchayats across the country, ensuring that people understand and can access healthcare services. It is designed in line with the principle ‘Antyodaya’ to leave no one behind on the quest for Universal Health Coverage. To facilitate the saturated healthcare coverage, the campaign will include activities such as Sewa Pakhwada comprising organ donation drives, cleanliness drives (Swachata Abhiyan), blood donation initiatives, and more.
Strengthening the groundwork for saturated delivery of healthcare services, this campaign broadens Ayushman Bharat’s reach using three core pillars: Ayushman Apke Dwar 3.0, Ayushman Sabha, and Ayushman Mela. These pillars enhance service delivery by focusing on comprehensive coverage, collaborative awareness-building, and community-centered efforts.
Ayushman Apke Dwar 3.0 will build on the success of its earlier versions (1.0 and 2.0) by expanding Ayushman card distribution with enhanced utilization of Ayushman Bharat services, ensuring widespread coverage. The Ayushman Sabha will aim to promote awareness of various healthcare schemes and services available in India. It will be spearheaded by the Village Health, Sanitation, and Nutrition Committee (VHSNCs). To further advance the Ayushman Bhav initiative, Ayushman Melas will serve as an efficient platform to tackle a broad spectrum of health concerns, efficiently reaching a large audience and boosting healthcare service utilization.
The ‘Ayushman – Apke Dwar’ initiative, will commence with an extensive country-wide drive on September 17th and run until December 31st, ensuring the higher provision of Ayushman cards to around 60 crore beneficiaries under the PM-JAY scheme. Through Ayushman Apke Dwar, every eligible family in the country will be registered for Ayushman cards, ensuring that health cards are issued to them under the AB-PMJAY scheme. The primary objective of this pillar is to ensure that every eligible beneficiary receives their Ayushman card, leaving no one without access to affordable healthcare services.
Ayushman Sabhas will convene on October 2nd, 2023, with a subsequent round taking place before December 31, 2023, spanning villages and urban wards throughout the country. Ayushman Sabhas will serve as a platform for citizens to gain knowledge about communicable and non-communicable diseases as well as voice their concerns about healthcare services, promoting social accountability of healthcare systems and exemplifying “Jan Bhagidari se Jan Kalyan.” These gatherings will include activities like distributing PM-JAY cards, showcasing empaneled hospitals, creating Ayushman Bharat Health Account IDs, screening services, and organizing health talks to raise awareness about various diseases, with participation from MPs/MLAs, PM-JAY beneficiaries, Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres beneficiaries, and tuberculosis champions and more to motivate the community.
The Ayushman Melas will be consistently held every week at 1.6 lakh Health and Wellness Centres in villages, and they will also take place at Community Health Centres, organized by medical colleges at the block level. This pillar will be pivotal to spreading awareness of saturated healthcare services among vulnerable and impoverished populations. These melas, offering specialized services such as ENT, Eye, and Psychiatric care at the block level, aim to enhance access to specialized care, reinforce the continuity of care, build trust between the community and the health system, improve health-seeking behavior and literacy, foster greater engagement with medical colleges, and extend healthcare services to every ailing individual in need.
The anticipated outcome is the transformation of every village and urban ward into an ‘Ayushman Gram Panchayat’ or ‘Ayushman Urban Ward,’ advancing holistic and sustainable development at the grassroots level. The profound mission is to certify villages that achieve 100% coverage of selected schemes under each pillar, including the distribution of Ayushman cards, generation of Ayushman Bharat Health Account IDs, population-based screening, testing and treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCD), and so on.
In the context of our optimum healthcare delivery vision, the unwavering pursuit of saturated healthcare coverage is not just a goal; it stands as a commitment set forth in the service of humanity by Pradhan Sevak, Shri Narendra Modi in line with our ancient wisdom as stated in this verse from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: “सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः, सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः। सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु, मा कश्चिद् दुःखभाग् भवेत्। (May all be happy, may all be free from illness. May all see what is auspicious, may no one suffer in any way.) Ayushman Bhav is the embodiment of the same commitment to delivering encompassing healthcare – It constitutes both an endeavor and a providential gift, fostering the prospects of longevity and robust health for every citizen and nation as a whole.
The author is Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare