The World Health Organization (WHO) will provide support to implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), or Ayushman Bharat, the Centre’s flagship scheme on health.
The initiative has been lauded by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who heralded its first 100 days earlier this year and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then-Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda “for their visionary leadership” in using the scheme to move India towards universal health coverage (UHC). Prime Minister Modi highlighted Ayushman Bharat at this year’s United Nations General Assembly, citing as it comprising part of his administration’s “four pillars” of UHC.
Now, in a boost to the scheme, the WHO will assist with technical assistance as part of the Country Cooperation Scheme (CCS). “The focus will be on equitable access and all aspects of health service delivery,” explained Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. “The WHO will help in implementation of the Ayushman Bharat health sector reforms that are aimed at expanding access to quality primary health care services and providing financial protection for those requiring hospital care – to strengthening health systems, including human resources for health and electronic information systems.”
The WHO’s CCS for India covers the 2019-23 period, which it describes as “a medium-term vision for WHO’s technical cooperation with a given Member State, and supports the country’s national health policy, strategy or plan.” Collaboration on the subject of Ayushman Bharat will initially roll out in select states.
“The implementation of this CCS will build on the remarkable successes in public health that India has demonstrated to the world,” said WHO Representative to India Henk Bekedam. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase India as a model to the world in initiatives such as digital health, access to quality medicines and medical products, comprehensive hepatitis control program and Ayushman Bharat.”