Interim Budget 2019: Prez Kovind highlights health initiatives for the poor

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New Delhi: In his speech to the joint session of Parliament on Thursday, President Ramnath Kovind talked about health related schemes of his government that have improved the overall health of the people especially, the poor, women and children in rural areas.

Kovind said his government was sensitive to the needs of the common people and understood their pain and prioritised provisions of basic amenities, addressed health concerns of the people and implemented the government schemes at an unprecedented pace after restructuring them.

“Lack of toilets had forced crores of Indians, especially our daughters and daughters-in-law to lead an undignified and unhealthy life. Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, more than 9 crore toilets have been constructed,” said Kovind. “It is the outcome of this mass movement that coverage of rural sanitation that was less than 40% in 2014, increased to 98%. According to an assessment, because of the toilets built, numerous poor people have been spared of various kinds of diseases and more than 3 lakh lives have been saved.”

The president highlighted that in the year of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the government resolved in his memory to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2nd October. “Many of our mothers, sisters and daughters used to suffer from various illnesses because of smoke filled kitchens, which also affected health of the entire family; and much of their effort and time were spent in collecting firewood,” he said.

Kovind said his government had provided more than 6 crore cooking gas connections to rural women under the Ujjwala Yojana. Adding that there were only 12 crore gas connections in the country in 2014, Kovind said that in a short period of four and a half years, 13 crore families were provided gas connections.

Mentioning about the most ambitious scheme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, Ayushman Bharat, launched last year, Kovind said: “Under the world’s biggest health care scheme, ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Abhiyan’, 50 crore poor are eligible for availing treatment up to 5 lakh per year per family in case of a serious illness. In a short period of four months, more than 10 lakh poor have already availed free treatment from hospitals under this scheme.”

“The government’s endeavour has also been to reduce the burden of out-of-pocket expenses on medical care for the poor and the middle class. Under ‘Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana’, 4,900 Jan Aushadhi Centres have already been opened in more than 600 districts. More than 700 different medicines are being dispensed at low cost in these Centres.”

Similarly, reduction in the cost of cardiac stents resulted annual savings of around 4,600 crore for the poor and middle class, the president said. The reduction in the cost of knee replacement led to an annual saving of about  1,500 crore, he added.

“My government has provided the facility of free-of-cost dialysis to those suffering from kidney diseases. This has resulted in a saving of more than 2,000 per session for these people.”

Kovind pointed out that in addition, for a premium of just 1 a month under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana’ and 90 paise a day under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana’, as many as 21 crore poor people were provided with insurance coverage. An assistance of 2 lakh in the event of an untoward incident is available to them under both the schemes.

“By disbursing more than 3,100 crore under these schemes to date, my government has supported the people in their times of difficulty.”

Kovind said that his government was striving hard to alleviate the challenge of malnutrition among poor women and children. Along with emphasising on the National Nutrition Mission for people suffering from malnutrition and to eliminate the factors responsible for malnutrition, he said ‘Mission Indradhanush’ had been launched by the government to provide immunisation facilities to children and pregnant women living in remote and tribal areas. As a result, the country moved rapidly towards the target of “Universal Immunization”.

The president said this government was also working towards strengthening the healthcare infrastructure in the country.

“Be it cities or villages, the government is working at a fast pace to strengthen healthcare-related infrastructure. New medical colleges are being set up by the government, district hospitals are being upgraded and Wellness Centres are being established in all major Panchayats of the country.”

“From Madurai in Tamil Nadu to Pulwama in Jammu-Kashmir; and from Rajkot in Gujarat to Kamrup in Assam, new ‘AIIMS’ are being established. The government is setting up new Ayurveda Science Institutes and encouraging yoga for physical and mental well being. To address the shortage of doctors in rural areas, 31,000 new seats have been added in medical education in the last four years.”

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