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J&K: Advancing healthcare access at grassroots level

The scheme offers universal health insurance coverage of up to Rs 5.00 lakh per family on a floater basis to all residents of the UT
01:00 AM Dec 28, 2023 IST | ZEHRU NISSA
j k  advancing healthcare access at grassroots level
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The healthcare programmes of the central government are proving boon to the common citizens in a comprehensive manner.

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As per the development experts, poverty and unequal access to essential services remain critical barriers to progress. Catastrophic healthcare expenses exacerbate poverty. The various healthcare schemes of the Government of India have been instrumental in ensuring affordable and accessible healthcare for all, regardless of economic status. The Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra is a visionary initiative to ensure the real success of these schemes by ensuring saturation at the grass-root level.

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The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) extension SEHAT Scheme stands as a flagship program, not only uplifting the masses but also saving countless lives. More than 30 lakh people are already covered in Jammu and Kashmir as per the official data. This financial year 2023-24, up to October 31, J&K witnessed a substantial investment amounting to Rs 2079.76 crores, bolstering the UT's developmental trajectory.

The funding has already started showing results: A study by GMC Srinagar, published in the May 2023 issue of the International Journal of Advanced Research (IJAR), unveiled a significant increase in pacemaker implantations from 265 to 419 between 2018 and 2021. Moreover, there was a remarkable 144 percent surge in coronary angioplasties after the introduction of the PM JAY scheme. These figures are a testimony to how PMJAY has changed the access to healthcare and made timely life-saving procedures possible even for those who would possibly have died otherwise, ill-affording being the cause.

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The scheme offers universal health insurance coverage of up to Rs 5.00 lakh per family on a floater basis to all residents of the UT. With 82.22 lakh beneficiaries registered under this scheme, over 8.87 lakh have already availed benefits, resulting in claims paid amounting to Rs 1,325 Cr. Official data reveals a cumulative investment in the UT totaling Rs 5319.35 crores from 2019 to October 31, 2023, distributed across various fiscal years.

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The Viskit Bharat Sankalp Yatra that is currently underway across the districts of the UT is meant to ensure that no family remains left-out from schemes capable of rescuing them from poverty's clutches. Every corner of J&K, be it urban or rural, has been touched by this initiative, enlightening people about the spectrum of healthcare schemes extended by the Central Government. The success of the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra owes much to the proactive engagement of district administration and healthcare officials, streamlining access to officials and eliminating cumbersome paperwork.

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Apart from increasing the saturation of SEHAT Scheme, the Viksit Bharat Yatra has also been successful in informing the benefit of the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJAP) by the Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers. The scheme ensures quality medicines at affordable prices through dedicated outlets known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJK). These Jan Aushudi Kendras and Amrit stores across the UT offer medicines, medical devices, and disposables at prices significantly lower than market rates.

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This government initiative to make generic and affordable drugs widely available could substantially reduce healthcare expenses borne by the underprivileged. Presently, 264 Jan Aushadhi Kendras, including 188 in the government sector and 76 in the private sector, are operational in J&K, according to the State Drugs Controller's recent update.

A significant stride in making healthcare accessible to all is the proliferation of medical colleges and associated hospitals across remote regions of the UT. These medical colleges not only extend specialized services but also provide medical education. Currently, five new medical colleges are fully operational in J&K, with two more in the process of expanding their services.

The author is a freelancer (Courtesy: PIB Srinagar)

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