The Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission is aimed at ensuring a robust public health infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, capable of responding to public health emergencies or disease outbreak.
About Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission
- In a bid to increase accessibility, the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission, an addition to the National Health Mission, will provide support to 17,788 rural Health and Wellness Centres in 10 ‘high focus’ states and establish 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres across the country.
- The mission’s objective is to fill critical gaps in public health infrastructure, especially in critical care facilities and primary care in both the urban and rural areas.
- It will ensure access to critical care services in all districts of the country with over five lakh population through ‘Exclusive Critical Care Hospital Blocks’.
- The remaining districts will be covered through referral services.
- Integrated public health labs will also be set up in all districts, giving people access to “a full range of diagnostic services” through a network of laboratories across the country.
Increased focus on diagnosis, surveillance of disease
- The Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission also aims to establish an IT-enabled disease surveillance system through a network of surveillance laboratories at block, district, regional and national levels.
- All the public health labs will be connected through the Integrated Health Information Portal, which will be expanded to all states and UTs.
- In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the mission aims at ensuring a robust system for “detecting, investigating, preventing, and combating public health emergencies and disease outbreaks”.
- For this, 17 new public health units will be set up, while the 33 existing public health units will be strengthened. It will also train frontline and healthcare workers to respond to public health emergencies effectively.
- Apart from this, the mission will set up other infrastructure, including a national institution for one health, four national institutes for virology, a regional research platform for WHO’s South East Asia region, nine biosafety level-III laboratories, and five regional centres for disease control.
Why is the scheme significant?
- India has long been in need of a ubiquitous healthcare system.
- A study (‘State of Democracy in South Asia (SDSA)–Round 3’) by Lokniti-CSDS in 2019 highlighted how access to public health care remained elusive to those living on the margins.
- 70% of the locations have public healthcare services. However, availability was less in rural areas (65%) compared to urban areas (87%).
- In 45% of the surveyed locations, people could access healthcare services by walking, whereas in 43% of the locations they needed to use transport. The survey also found that proximity to healthcare services is higher in urban localities: 64% of the enumerators in urban areas observed that people can access healthcare services by walking, while only 37% in rural areas can do so.
- The Prime Minister had recently launched another scheme, the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), a flagship digital initiative involving the creation of not just a unique health ID for every citizen, but also a digital healthcare professionals and facilities registry.
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