India’s Modi launches ‘world’s largest’ health insurance scheme

India’s government has launched one of the world’s largest publicly-funded health insurance schemes, set to cover some 500 million people.

The Ayushman Bharat programme, dubbed “Modicare” after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised health cover worth 500 000 rupees ($6 900) to every low-income family to treat serious ailments.

At the occasion of its official roll out in Ranchi, capital of the eastern state of Jharkhand, on Sunday, Modi claimed that a government scheme at “such a grand scale is not being carried out anywhere in the world”.

The prime minister said the scheme will transform India into a medical hub in the future and called it “a big step towards providing good quality and accessible healthcare to the poor of India.

“Over 100 million families will benefit,” Modi said.


The programme, which was first announced as part of the yearly budget in February, is expected to cost the central and 29 state governments $1.6-billion per year in total.

Expenditures will be shared by the central and state governments at a 60 to 40 ratio in most states and funding will be increased gradually according to the demand.

On Sunday, Modi handed medical cards out at the launch in Ranchi, calling it a “historic day” for the country.

The government is aiming is set up 50 000 wellness centres across the country over the next four years, he said.

“The scheme will not have any distinguished plans on the basis of sect or caste. There will be no discrimination based on any race or any fraternity,” said Modi.

India spends just 1.5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare compared to a global average of 6%.

The country’s overburdened public health system is plagued by a shortage of hospitals and doctors and most people use private clinics and hospitals if they can afford to.

But a private consultation can cost 1 000 rupees ($15), a huge sum for millions living on less than $2 a day.

More than 60% of the average family’s spending goes on medicines and healthcare, the government estimates.

“There has been a lot of concern regarding the human resources, but I think within 10 to 15 years, our health sector would become a world class health sector,” Ilias Ali, a doctor based in the northeastern city of Guwahati, told the media.

Experts have praised the latest programme but say it should have included primary day-to-day healthcare instead of just secondary and tertiary care for more serious and long-term treatment.

“Modicare does not extend to primary healthcare, which, we believe, is the weakest link in the provision of public health in India,” Rajiv Lall and Vivek Dehejia of the IDFC Institute think-tank said in a column for the Mint newspaper.

“The crucial point is that poorly delivered primary care inevitably increases the burden on health and finance at the secondary and tertiary levels down the line,” they said. — Al Jazeera

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Agency
External source

Related stories

How US foreign policy under Donald Trump has affected Africa

Lesotho has been used as a microcosm in this article to reflect how the foreign policy has affected Africa

The challenges of delivering a Covid-19 vaccine in Africa requires a new approach

It is imperative that we train healthcare workers and participate in continent-wide collaboration

Is solar power the answer to Southern Africa’s energy crisis?

Africa’s favourable weather conditions means solar energy uptake could be accelerated with a few nudges in the right direction

Three digital transformation priorities for African healthcare organisations

With doctors in short supply, healthcare employers need to invest in intelligent technologies to make the experience of accessing healthcare as good as it can be, for all involved

The cost of Covid: 25 years of progress, halted

Development has been set back by two decades, says the Gates Foundation Goalkeepers report

Where do Africans study abroad?

China is becoming the preferred destination for countries such as Ghana and Nigeria
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Vitamin therapy is for drips

It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say

Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced

Murder of anti-mining activist emboldens KZN community

Mam’Ntshangase was described as a fierce critic of mining and ambassador for land rights.

Unite with Nigeria’s ‘Speak Up’ generation protesting against police brutality

Photos of citizens draped in the bloodied flag have spread around the world in the month the country should be celebrating 60 years of independence
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday