India can be third largest economy by skilling: PM Modi
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that making medical treatment affordable has been a top priority of his government. The PM lamented the fact that life-saving equipment like medicines, vaccines and medical devices were “weaponised” when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak and said the government was always trying to minimise India’s dependence on foreign countries.
He was addressing a post-Budget webinar on “Health and Medical Research”, the ninth of a series of 12 post-Budget webinars meant to seek ideas and suggestions for effectively implementing Budget initiatives. He said healthcare could be seen in terms of pre and post-Covid pandemic systems, which had even tested prosperous nations. The PM noted that as the pandemic focused global attention on health, India went a step further and focused on wellness.
“That is why we put forward a vision before the world -- One Earth, One Health. This involves holistic healthcare for all creatures -- humans, animals or plants,” he said.
On the lessons learnt on supply chains during the pandemic, he said it had become a matter of great concern. “There was a lack of an integrated approach and a long-term vision regarding health in India. We have not confined healthcare only to the health ministry, but have emphasized the ‘whole of government’ approach. Ensuring affordable treatment in India has been the topmost priority of our government,” Mr Modi said.
The PM said this was the spirit behind the free treatment up to Rs 5 lakhs under Ayushman Bharat, which has saved over Rs 80,000 crores, which otherwise crores of patients would have spent on their treatment.
“Tomorrow, on March 7, the country is going to celebrate the Jan Aushadhi Divas. Today there are about 9,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras across the country. Medicines are available at these centers at a much cheaper price than the market. Poor and middle class families have saved almost Rs 20,000 crores while buying medicines from these centres. In other words, the citizens of India have saved about one lakh crore rupees due to these two schemes,” Mr Modi said.
Underling the need for strong health infrastructure for the treatment of serious ailments, the PM said more than 1.5 lakh health centres were being developed in close proximity to homes across India so that testing centres and first aid are available. He said facilities for screening serious ailments like diabetes, cancer and heart-related issues will also be available at these centers and underlined that critical health infrastructure was being made accessible to small towns and villages under the PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission, not only giving rise to new hospitals but also creating a new and complete health ecosystem.
“As a result, many opportunities are being created for health entrepreneurs, investors and professionals,” he said. Talking about human resources in the health sector, the PM said over 260 new medical colleges had been opened in the last few years, which has doubled the medical seats in graduate and postgraduate medical courses, compared to 2014.
Underlining the emphasis on nursing in this year’s Budget, he said: “Opening 157 nursing colleges in the vicinity of the medical colleges is a huge step in the direction of medical human resources. This may be useful in fulfilling global demand, not just the domestic need.”
The PM highlighted the role of technology in constantly making medical services accessible and affordable and elaborated on the government’s focus on the implementation of technology in the sector. “We want to give timely healthcare to citizens through Digital Health IDs. Ten crore people have already benefited by tele-consultation through schemes like e-Sanjivini,” said Mr Modi, adding that 5G was creating new opportunities in this sector for startups while drones were bringing revolutionary changes in medicine delivery and testing services.
”This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and will give a push to our efforts for universal healthcare”, he said, exhorting entrepreneurs to avoid the import of technology.