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India showcases health coverage milestones at UN

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India showcases health coverage milestones at UNNew Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) India showcased the milestones in its journey towards the universal health coverage (UHC) at the UN General Assembly in New York by distributing a booklet, prepared by the Health Ministry, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the UNGA earlier this week.

It talks about the Ayushman Bharat initiative, launched in 2018 with the target of setting up 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres and providing health protection under the PMJAY programme to 50 crore. Around 10.2 crore beneficiaries had been verified, it claimed.

India’s incremental and aspirational UHC journey aims at progressive integration of all population groups and gradual inclusion of packages for high-burden disease conditions.

It underlines significant gains from focus on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH). Communicable diseases stayed in focus and chronic disease care was being incorporated, it said.

The UHC interventions build on a robust health systems platform, strengthening quality and high coverage.

On resource augmentation for the UHC, the booklet said it included the government commitment to raise public investment in healthcare to 2.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and allocate two-thirds of the budget for the primary healthcare.

Stating that 4 per cent health and education cess on income-tax to finance quality health services and universal education has been introduced, the booklet claimed extra budgetary funding was being done through a special purpose vehicle — Higher Education Funding Agency — set up for infrastructure development.

In addition, tobacco products are in the higher tax slab and states, like Kerala, have initiated “fat tax” on junk food.

“The government is working with a holistic approach to improve the health sector. Our focus is on both ‘affordable health care’ and ‘preventive health care’,” the Prime Minister has been quoted as saying in the booklet.

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