BENGALURU: On the eve of World Health Day, experts have stressed on the need to achieve universal health coverage and make Right to Health a fundamental right.
“The Union Government’s Ayushman Bharat scheme is ambitious as it is going to be biggest in the world. It goes without saying that implementation will be a challenge,” said Dr Girdhar Gyani, Chairman of the NABH review committee and Director General of AHPI.
He pointed out that this scheme by itself will cover more than 40 per cent population and putting together other schemes such as CGHS, ECHS, ESIC and private insurance, it will touch almost 70 per cent of the country population.
“If it really happens successfully, India can become role model in running this magnitude of UHC anywhere in the world. If there were adequate beds in the public sector, it would have been easy for the government to implement the scheme of its own. However, over 60% of IPD services are being met by the private healthcare sector that will require the government to necessarily partner private sector for this scheme. Here again private sector hospitals are concentrated mostly in Tier-I and II cities," Gyani said.
However, he felt in the long run such scheme will encourage setting up of more hospitals in the smaller cities.
As for insurance companies involved in the scheme, Sanjay Tiwari, Executive Vice-President, Exide Life Insurance said, “Understanding the value of a supplemental health insurance is becoming more apparent when factoring in the risks and costs of non-communicable diseases.”
Citing recent estimates he said India will soon have the highest number of cases of cardiovascular disease in the world. Heart diseases, once considered a disease of late middle age and old age, has affected the young Indian population 10 years ahead of their Western counterparts.
As for cancer, he said 2.5 million people in India are living with the disease and over seven lakh cancer patients are added every year. Around 71 per cent of all cancer-related deaths happen in the age group of 30-69 years.
Tiwari pointed out that while advancement in medical infrastructure has helped improve the survival rate from non-communicable diseases, the major hurdle faced is the inadequacy of funds to manage the expenses. The expenses arising out of these conditions have eroded many families’ lifetime savings, he said.
This forms the foundation for insurers in India to offer critical health covers which can cover this loophole to ensure peace of mind for the individual and the family in the long run, he observed. Satish Kannan, Co-founder and CEO, DocsApp, a digital media consultation platform, said that leveraging today’s technology is the only way to increase efficiency and decrease geographical constraints of these doctors.