A new scheme, tentatively called the ‘PM Samagra Swasthya Yojana’, will provide universal access to ‘equitable, affordable and quality healthcare’
New Delhi: In a major push to the health sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to unveil an “umbrella healthcare programme” on 15 August that will subsume the existing schemes, according to reports.
The new scheme is tentatively called the ‘PM Samagra Swasthya Yojana’, which will provide universal access to “equitable, affordable and quality healthcare,” Livemint reported.
The programme will reportedly absorb various flagship schemes — PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), and PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM). It is touted to be a “rebranding” of the National Health Mission.
Besides the PM Samagra Swasthya Yojana, the prime minister is also expected to launch two more schemes in the health sector — Heal by India and Heal in India.
While ‘Heal by India’ will focus on sending doctors abroad to perform medical procedures, the other scheme will boost medical tourism in the country, the report quoted officials as saying.
Interpreters and special desks at 10 airports, a multi-lingual portal and simplified visa norms are going to be the highlights of the government’s ‘Heal in India’ initiative to boost medical tourism, PTI reported.
It further stated that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is putting finishing touches to its various aspects and measures for ease of overseas patients. The government has identified 44 countries from where a large number of people visit India for medical purposes, official sources told PTI, adding the cost and quality of treatment in these nations were also taken into account. These are predominantly African, Latin American, SAARC and Gulf countries, they said.
The 10 identified airports — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Guwahati — see higher footfalls of patients from these 44 countries.
“In a bid to boost medical travel and provide end-to-end patient journey facilitation, the government will deploy language interpreters and set up health desks at the 10 identified airports for queries related to medical travel, transport, boarding and lodging among others,” the news agency quoted a source as saying.
The ‘Heal in India’ initiative aims to positioning the country as a global hub for medical and wellness tourism. According to estimates, the medical tourism market which was valued at USD 6 billion in 2020 fiscal year is expected to more than double and reach USD 13 billion by 2026, an official source said.
The Health Ministry, in collaboration with the National Health Authority, has developed a multi-lingual portal which would be a one-stop shop for services provided by medical travel facilitators and hospitals with an interface for foreign patients. The portal is also likely to be launched on 15 August.
It will display standardized package rates based on the classification of hospitals and different systems of medicines including modern and traditional systems. It will also have a grievance redressal section as well as an option to submit patient feedback. There will also be a mechanism to track patient journey by creating a unique health ID under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission framework and monitor service delivery in identified health facilities in India, the source explained.
The ministry has also drawn up a plan to augment the infrastructure at 37 hospitals across 17 cities in 12 states –Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Assam — which see an inflow of a lot of overseas patients for treatment and wellness therapies.
The government is also working on easing medical visa norms for patients and their companions from the 44 identified countries.
(With inputs from agencies)