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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

PM Narendra Modi wants health insurance for all

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 06, 2014
First Published: 01:27 IST(6/8/2014) | Last Updated: 01:44 IST(6/8/2014)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called a meeting on health reforms this week in which the format of the health insurance for all, setting up medical colleges in each district and a three-year BSc course in community health are likely to be discussed.

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Improving public health facilities had been high on PM Modi’s agenda and health minister Harsh Vardhan has been working on series of reforms that entails to provide affordable health to all. The government has announced the setting up of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in different states and improving health infrastructure.

But government sources said the meeting of all dealing with health, including department of pharmaceuticals, have been called with an idea to take the agenda ahead.

The Prime Minister’s Office has asked Planning Commission secretary Sindhushree Kullar to make a presentation on the reforms that can unclog the health sector.

One of the major issues to be discussed at the meeting would be health insurance for all. Sources said the government was looking at a proposal of nominal premium for health insurance that would cover treatment for widespread ailments like diabetes, cardiac and cancer. “The aim is to provide a basic minimum health insurance cover to all. The rate of the premium for the middle class could be dependent on one’s income. But for the poor it would be very nominal,” a government official said.  

Another issue likely be flagged is the growing shortage of health personnel in rural India. There are just 0.64 doctors and 1.44 nurses for 1,000 Indians. The ratio halves for rural India with a large number of health personnel working in urban areas. Although the number of health personnel has increased the demand for medical treatment has also risen with improvement income in recent years, says a government paper for the 12th five year plan.

To meet the growing demand, the government wants to set up a medical college in each district with the help of state governments in coordination with the upgraded district hospitals.

Modi is also keen to initiate three year BSc course in community health which failed to take-off during the previous UPA regime because of resistance by the Medical Council of India claiming that it would create a workforce of “half-baked” doctors.

The government has, however, brushed aside such concerns saying the pass-outs would work as community health workers and not doctors. The officials expect a go ahead to many of these reforms at the meeting.


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