HWCs form a core part of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), or Ayushman Bharat, the Centre’s flagship health insurance scheme which aims to provide health insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family per year to economically vulnerable Indians. HWCs offer a range of services, including “care for noncommunicable diseases [NCDS] as well as prevention, and health promotion and wellness activities like Yoga apart from services already being provided for maternal and child health, including immunisation and communicable diseases.” Screening for NCDs including hypertension and diabetes have reached crores of Indians.
It was recently reported that 20,942 HWCs have become operational in the last year. By March next year, Vardhan has said that the Centre intends to establish 40,000 HWCs. In addition to the HWCs, more than 15,000 hospitals belonging to both the public and private sectors are empanelled to provide medical services under Ayushman Bharat.
More than 41 lakh Indians have benefited from Ayushman Bharat since its launch in September last year, making savings of Rs 12,000 crore. The scheme has faced difficulties, however, from low awareness hampering outreach to some states being reluctant to implement the scheme. These challenges notwithstanding, the Centre shows no sign of slowing down its efforts to strengthen the initiative further with a sizeable commitment to primary healthcare indicative of this.