The government intends to live up to its promise to provide healthcare to all. At least the centre is making all the right noises and said that it is taking steps to launch an Urban Health Mission akin to the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The NRHM recently identified 264 backward districts where they will provide extensive healthcare services, which will include 13,000 health managers (doctors, nurses, etc.). The medical workers will work in assistance with ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) and ANM (Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife) workers who are the pulse of the NRHM. Earlier during the budget, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee too had announced plans to set up a National Urban Health Mission.
“The Government of India accords great importance to ensuring equitable health care to all its citizens. The NRHM is an ambitious multi-sectoral initiative taken by the Government of India in 2005-06 to make essential health care available, accessible and affordable to the rural citizens,” Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Inaugurating the two-day deliberations of WHO South East Asian Region’s meeting on Universal Health Coverage, Azad said, “Learning from this experience, we intend to launch the Urban Health Mission in the near future.”
“It is a matter of grave concern that people in our region have the highest out-of-pocket expenditures on health as compared to anywhere in the world. In India, out of the total out-of-pocket expenses, nearly 62 per cent is incurred by the rural populations,” he said. There is sufficient evidence and experience that indicates Universal Health Coverage is a potential tool that can reduce prevalent health inequities, contribute to human development and accelerate the quest for health for all, he said.
Health experts from the 11 Member States of WHO’s South-East Asia Region coalesced on 16-17 April to find better ways to provide healthcare in the region. “Equity remains the underpinning principle that we must not lose sight of,” Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO’s South-Asia regional director said.