The initiative was launched in 1954 by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to provide a range of health benefits to beneficiaries, including central government employees and retirees drawing pensions, as well as eligible dependants. Vardhan said that, since first coming to power in 2014, the Centre has expanded the number of cities where CGHS services are provided from 25 to as many as 71. By 2022, the hope is that the Government can expand access further to 100 cities.
“The progress that we have achieved under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be clearly seen,” Vardhan said as he inaugurated a CGHS bhawan to serve as the new headquarters of the scheme at the Rama Krishna Puram housing colony for government employees in New Delhi. “We are aggressively witnessing reforms in every area of the health sector. CGHS services should be made available in 100 cities by 2022, when the prime minister also wishes to deliver a New India to all citizens.”
The bhawan will serve a number of administrative duties, including issuing cards to CGHS beneficiaries. A wellness centre is also housed on the premises. While touting improvements made to the initiative, Vardhan expressed a desire to explore further revisions. “The scheme has the potential of becoming one of the best in the world,” he said. “I wish to have an internal brainstorming session among senior CGHS doctors to evaluate the possibilities of further improvement of the scheme, for strengthening the transparency and adding further reforms.”
A number of government schemes have aimed to expand access to healthcare. Most notably, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana – or Ayushman Bharat – provides health insurance coverage to economically vulnerable families and has so far enabled 39 lakh families to make healthcare-related savings of up to Rs 12,000 crore. Strengthening these initiatives mark significant steps towards broadening access to healthcare in India.