Uptick in affordable healthcare under Ayushman Bharat: Govt survey

Phase 1 results of National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-2020) credit Ayushman Bharat with revolutionising healthcare by making it qualitative, affordable and accessible, say sexual and reproductive health indicators have improved in many states

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According to the survey, even though only a short time has elapsed since its introduction, the effects identified with PM-JAY underscore the potential of the programme to significantly alter the health landscape. Representational photo

The Phase 1 results of the fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey (2019-2020) has dubbed the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Swachh Bharat Mission an effective measure in strengthening the healthcare system in the country, while recording improvements in indicators of sexual and reproductive health as well as women empowerment.

The phase one results are based on data collected from 17 states and five Union territories.

“The over-arching Ayushman Bharat programme launched in 2018 has completely revolutionised primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare system in the country, with a strong focus on preventive healthcare,” Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan said while releasing the survey findings on Saturday (December 12).

Vardhan said the two wings of the Ayushman Bharat scheme – the Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY) have helped millions access affordable healthcare across the country.

Related news: COVID-19 could be India’s opportunity to speed up Ayushman Bharat: WHO chief

“With 51,500 centres now functional, more than a third of the target has been met. This has led to improved access to affordable primary healthcare services for more than 25 crore people. It is our aim to establish 1.5 lakh such centres by December 2022. This also includes 12,500 AYUSH health and wellness centres being set up by the ministry of Ayush,” he was quoted as saying.

According to the survey, the sexual and reproductive health indicators including mother and child health, immunizations and family planning methods, in many states have improved compared to the NFHS-4 (2015-2016).

The report, however, showed a rise in malnutrition in children. The number of underweight children has gone up in seven states while that of children with stunted growth has increased in six states in the past four years, the survey said.

The states reporting in a rise in underweight children (under the age of five) are West Bengal, Maharashtra, Telangana, Kerala, Gujarat, Assam and Himachal Pradesh.

Himachal Pradesh recorded the maximum rise in cases with the percentage of underweight children going up from 21.2 per cent in 2015-2016 to 25 per cent in 2019-2020.

Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana and West Bengal are the states which saw an increase in children with stunted growth. Telangana topped the list as its percentage of children with stunted growth rose from 33.1 per cent to 28 per cent.

Women empowerment indicators including the number of women with bank accounts have also shown a considerable progress in the survey.

Related news: Ayushman Bharat empowering several Indians: PM Modi

The number of women with saving accounts in bank have tripled in the past five years in Bihar – from 26 per cent in 2015 to 76.7 per cent in 2019-20, while the same in Maharashtra rose from 45.3 per cent to 72.8 per cent. West Bengal saw the percentage of account holders going up from 43.5 per cent to 76.5 per cent.

The results published in Phase 1 of the survey include data from 131 indicators and cover half of the 7 lakh households that were surveyed. The final report is expected to be published in May 21 and will be based on 400 indicators, collected from all states and Union territories.