PM Modi pushes PPP model for ‘aatmanirbhar’ health sector

PM Modi also mentioned that the government was aware that investing in the health sector would also increase employment opportunities in the long run

India is now preparing to be aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) in the health sector, with focus on the public private partnership (PPP) model, to better deal with health emergencies and improve access to healthcare for all, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi while discussing health allocation in the Union Budget on Tuesday.

“The amount allocated for the health sector in this year’s budget is unprecedented, and is an attempt to provide better healthcare services to every citizen of this country. The last year was a test, particularly for the health sector, but I am happy to announce that India managed to pass the test successfully as it managed to save lives and create testing infrastructure in a few months, with currently 2,500 labs active for Covid-19 testing and 210 million tests administered so far,” said Modi.

Giving credit to the private sector as well, Modi said the successful handling of Covid-19 pandemic in India has been possible because of the collaboration between the government and the private sector.

“Covid-19 has taught us that we don’t have to just fight this pandemic but also be prepared to handle such epidemics in the future. We have to keep India ready for any eventuality, which is why it is equally important to strengthen the health sector. From medical equipment to medicines, from ventilators to vaccines, from scientific research to surveillance infrastructure, and from doctors to epidemiologists, we have to focus on each and every segment so that we are better prepared to deal with any health emergency in future,” Modi said.

He added that PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojna (PMANSBY) has been initiated keeping this focus in mind.

“Under this scheme, from research to testing and treatment, the idea is to establish an advanced ecosystem within the country. PMANSBY will increase our strength in every spectrum. Based on the 15th finance commission recommendations, our local bodies will get more than ₹70,000 crore to strengthen health sector services. The government’s focus is not merely on investing in the health sector but also to ensure health services are accessible in the remotest parts of the country,” he said.

Modi also mentioned that the government was aware that investing in the health sector would also increase employment opportunities in the long run.

“The world has noticed India displaying its strength in the health sector during the pandemic in great detail,. Globally, the reputation and trust in India’s health sector has reached the next level. We have to be future-ready keeping in mind this trust. In future the demand for Indian doctors, nurses and paramedics globally is going to further increase. Made-in-India medicines and vaccines have also garnered trust among global community. We have to make preparations keeping this in mind,” said Modi.

He also said that India’s medical education system will become more popular and more students will come to study medicine here, and that needs to be encouraged.

“Due to Covid-19, India gained expertise in manufacturing ventilators and other equipment. The country will have to act fast to be able to handle the global demand, especially to make cost-effective medical devices that the world needs,” he said.

Emphasising on public-private partnerships, Modi said that the government’s budget is a catalytic agent but it will work better if everyone cooperates.

Modi also said that the government’s approach towards the health sector was holistic. “Earlier, the health sector was handled in a fragmented manner but our government has adopted an integrated approach towards health, which is why we are not merely focusing on treatment but also wellness. From prevention to cure, we have adopted an integrated approach,” said Modi.

To keep India healthy, Mode added, the government has adopted a four-pronged strategy.

“The first strategy is the prevention of illness and promotion of wellness, for which there have been initiatives such as Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, focus on yoga, care and treatment facilities for pregnant women and newborns, drinking water and sanitation etc. The second strategy is to make effective and affordable treatment accessible for the poorest of the poor, for which there are Ayushman Bharat insurance and Jan Aushadhi schemes. The third focus area is improving health infrastructure and increasing the quantity and quality of healthcare professionals, for which the government has made efforts in the past six years to expand AIIMS and AIIMS-like institutions in remote states; and the fourth strategy is to look for solutions in a time-bound manner and in mission mode, such as immunisation coverage or achieving the tuberculosis elimination target of 2025 etc.,” said Modi.

Another focus area, said Modi, is Ayush. He added that India’s traditional medicines are becoming popular globally, and Ayush needs to be expanded further as India’s traditional medicines are herb-based with no side-effects.

“It is a moment of pride for India that WHO is starting its global centre of traditional medicine in India. WHO has announced it and it is under process. It is time to take accessibility and affordability to the next level,” he said.

Modi also said that the use of advanced technologies in the health sector also needs to be increased, with a special focus on digital health mission. This transformation is necessary for India to become aatmanirbhar (self-reliant).

“India may be called the pharmacy of the world, but even today we are reliant on foreign countries for raw material of drugs and medical devices, which hampers the process of providing cheap drugs and medical equipment to the poor. We have to look for a solution to this problem, as India needs to be made self-reliant in this field. Steps are being taken, that was also mentioned in the budget, and companies are being provided production-linked incentives for producing raw material for drugs and medical devices in the country; and mega parks for manufacturing drugs and medical devices are also getting a good response. We have to reach every single citizen,” said Modi.

India will be working at different levels, be it creating wellness centres, district hospitals, critical care centres, health surveillance infrastructure, advanced laboratories, or telemedicine facilities.

“When centre, state governments, local bodies and the private sector come together then we will get better results. We have to devise solutions together and fast in the health sector, keeping in mind the poor of the country,” said Modi.

He also said that from April 1 all initiatives announced in the Union Budget will be implemented across the country, and February and March should be used for making preparations for implementing all initiatives mentioned in the budget.

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