Driven by the highly laudable goal of Universal Healthcare, aimed at covering 500 million people of the nation, Ayushman Bharath (also known as Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Abhiyan), approved by the Cabinet of the Union government with funding is described as the world’s largest health care infrastructure scheme. The target population of the scheme accounts for about 40 percent of the country’s total population. The nation has a backlog of the various diseases bugging the people in unmanageable numbers and given the well-marked factors contributing to the occurrence of these diseases and disorders, the task under the mission is sure to get tougher in days ahead, unless the pace of action addressing the hurdles to be overcome doesn’t slow down in the course of implementing the daunting mission. India’s pharma industry and medical professionals with global standard skills in different specialities, although numerically inadequate, together raise hopes for the mission to succeed, unless the country’s infamous administration throws spanner in the machinery as it were.
In an article published in a daily last week, its author recalls the sterling inputs by thousands of Indian doctors who migrated to Great Britain in saving that country’s 70-year-old National Health Service when it was in danger of collapsing. The scenario is very much different in India given the over-crowding in government hospitals and cost of medicare in private establishments beyond the paying capacity of nearly 95 percent of the land’s diaspora.
Medicare, commonly perceived as treatment of the sick aided by medicines prescribed by doctors and subsequent nursing care is only a part of healthcare, which owes a great deal to the many factors such as (a) Awareness about the causes of different diseases, (b) Attention to personal hygiene, (c) Consumption of food free from vectors threatening health, (d) Living in sanitary ambience, (e) Keeping living spaces safe for children in homes hosting pets and so on. The sections in the country’s burgeoning population eternally being bugged by hardship stoked by low income and contributing to the unhealthy environment are government’s baby for caring. Voluntary groups taking upon themselves the onerous task of reining in these sections are overwhelmed by the scale on which people are hurting the cause of wellness, particularly in urban spaces across the country.
The national cost and effort of creating and maintaining an ambience supportive of wellness of all sections of the population is just a fraction of the cost and workload of addressing the healthcare agenda of the masses. The government’s hands being unable to reach the spots of trouble, the onus of mitigating sickness burden clearly lies in the lap of people at large.