V for Vaccination & V for Victory : India shines

PM Narendra Modi deserves all the praises for Healthcare Turnaround

Dr Vinay Aggarwal, former President of IMA

One billion COVID vaccination doses mark is truly an acknowledgement of capable leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a tribute to resilience of India as well. That all doctors, nurses, health workers of all manners stood as one behind PM Modi is mark of his great leadership. Those COVID warriors rallying behind him also share the praise with him. COVID conquests are certainly shining feathers in PM’s cap. COVID warriors and PM’s leadership as if moved mountains. It is really abig deal to tackle supply chain and vaccine hesitancy.NaMo has also powered healthcare to make ‘Health for All’seem a possibility in foreseeable future. Healthcare owes it big to him for making healthcare an indispensable ‘pillar’ of his governance.

Vaccinating India’s vast population to stall the march ofkiller COVID pandemic presented a real tough challenge in the midst of vaccination hesitancy. It really seemed a daunting task but the indomitable spirit of corona warriors coupled with unwavering leadership of NaMo pulled off a great feat. Reaching 100 crore covid vaccine doses on October 21 is quite an accomplishment indeed and PM is deservedly showered with profuse praises from all corners. Though India is still way behind the target of herd immunity through vaccination, the feat truly exemplifies our capacity to confront catastrophe of any enormity. The accomplishment has really instilled a great hope in the countrymen in the midst of despondency triggered by pandemic. PM has quite rightly described it as triumph of Indian science and collective spirit of people. The praise well deservedly came from as far as from Bill Gates who hailed the triumph of India and described it as a ‘testament to India’s innovation’.The one billion COVID vaccination mark is also befitting reply to Doubting Thomases.

India is only second to China in the administration of number of doses in the world. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who is also credited with packing a punch in the vaccination speed, has rightly congratulated India saying ‘we have achieved a landmark milestone of 100 crore COVID 19 vaccination doses. But we cannot rest on this laurel. We must understand that we still have long way to go to fully vaccinate people to keep further COVID waves at bay.

In fact, PM Modi has come as a manna from heaven so far as healthcare in India is concerned. Health was for ever on the backburner and did not count as a political issue at all. But PM changed all that in one fell swoop. It was a complete turnaround of healthcare scenario in India. PM Modi made healthcare a very strong presence on the political agenda. No futurepolitical dispensation will dare to relegate healthcare to the background. Healthcare is firmly entrenched in the political scheme of things.

PM Modi has really made healthcare an article of faith exemplifying it amply in the union budget of 2021. The unprecedented allocation for health showcased PM Modi’s commitment to health of the nation. The government did not rain for healthcare, it poured. The one statement of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman was so empowering. It was really a great boost to healthcare when she said healthcare was the first of the six pillars her budget rested on. After this health dominated the discourse around budget and some commentators rightly termed the budget as vaccine for the economy.

‘Health for All’ should be the holy grail of his governance wherein all people have healthcare equity and get quality healthcare irrespective of wealth. It is no exaggeration to say that in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is way ahead in that quest. Ayushman Bharat and Generic Medicines program speak a volume about government’s intent for robust healthcare. Two huge healthcare programs Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya JanausadhiPariyojna (PMBJP) and Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojna (PMJAYalso called Ayushman Bharat or Modicare) are a great boost to the quest of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). No wonder NaMo assumed the nickname of Modicine.

Ayushman Bharat had got instant thumbs up from health policy experts and was regarded as best foot forward towards UHC. PMJAY, the biggest government funded health protection scheme, though needs some course correction for successful implementation, is a bonanza for poor and disadvantaged patients. The National Health Policy (2017) ushered in a charter for transforming the health system to address unmet health service needs. 2018 marked a year of great national and global excitement. The promise of comprehensive primary healthcare close to home through health and wellness centres is game changing. Of course, the scheme certainly would need higher financial resources apart from some design but if implemented in the real spirit, PM Narendra Modi would indelibly etch his name for ever in the healthcare domain.I look forward to a continued focus on healthcare with Ayushman Bharat growing in scope with a prudent approach to pricing and reimbursements to encourage wide adoption

PMBJP (Pradhan Mantri Jan AushadhiPariyojana ) also is a praiseworthy program which went a long way in making cheap generic medicines available for poor patients. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Healthcare Minister, also needs to be praised for super success of generic medicine programs. Mr Mandaviya as erstwhile Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers really worked with missionary zeal to make PMBJP a household name. Providing quality medicines at such cheap price in a country like India is really a miracle.Ultra-cheap high quality generic medicines, Ayushman Bharat and capping of prices of stents and implants are some of the great steps that will go a long way to make health for all a reality in times to come. Summing up, PM Modi has really brought about a certain turnaround in healthcare. There is need to sustain the programs in right spirit and take the steps towards logical conclusion of health for all.

Last but not the least, launch of digital Ayushman Bharat Mission by PM Narendra Modi only last month is again a great initiative which would certainly, as was said by him,bring about revolutionary change in India’s health facilities, improve ease of living and digitally protect the health records of people.

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