Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana-Ayushman Bharat from Ranchi on Sunday, and termed it a “game-changer initiative to serve the poor”.
The health scheme would come into effect from Sunday, he said.
“PMJAY-Ayushman Bharat is the biggest government-sponsored healthcare scheme in the world. The number of beneficiaries is almost equal to the population of Canada, Mexico and the United States taken together,” Modi said.
In an apparent reference to the Congress, he said the previous governments had indulged in “vote-bank politics” without empowering the poor.
“We have been listening to the garibi hatao (get rid of poverty) slogan, but it was just an attempt to hoodwink the poor. If the (welfare) schemes were implemented, as promised, the poor in the country would have been better off today,” the prime minister said.
The erstwhile government did not realise that the poor have self-respect and dignity, Modi claimed.
“I have seen and lived the life of a poor, so I know the importance of self-respect and dignity in their lives. I am trying my best to fulfil their dreams and protect their dignity. It is the Bharatiya Janata Party government that is focused on empowering them (poor people),” he said.
The magnitude of the Ayushman Bharat scheme could be gauged from the fact that more than 1,300 ailments are covered under it, including heart diseases, kidney and liver disorders and diabetes, the prime minister said.
“People are calling the scheme Modicare and by other names, but for me it is an opportunity to serve the poor. Even the ones living in the lowest strata of the society will benefit from the scheme,” he said.
Iterating the slogan “Sabka saath, sabka vikas” (together for all, development for all), Modi said the health cover does not discriminate on communal or caste lines.
“The programme will not differentiate between people, based on religion, caste, location. Every eligible person will be able to avail of the benefits,” he asserted.
Congratulating the team that was instrumental in the programme’s implementation, he said the officials would receive the blessings of 50 crore beneficiaries.
“I hope and pray that the poor don’t have to visit hospitals, but, if they do, the Ayushman cover will be at their service. The poor of my country must get all facilities that the rich enjoy,” he said.
“One does not need to register for the initiative. A health card would be provided to the beneficiaries for availing of the benefits. A toll-free number will also be made available to the people for finding out more about the scheme,” he explained.
Modi also said 2,500 modern hospitals would come up in tier-II and tier-III cities and would generate employment opportunities.
“A total of 13,000 hospitals have become a part of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Our government has taken a holistic approach to lay stress on affordable and preventive healthcare,” he said.
Quoting party ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, the prime minister said “good health was an investment just as good education” for the future of the country.
He also said the central government has given approval for 15 new AIIMS in the country.
“The government is working on a scheme to train one lakh new doctors in the next four to five years and build at least one AIIMS in each state,” he claimed.
Inaugurating 10 wellness centres in Jharkhand, the prime minister said he wished to reach out to people across the country under this programme.
“I have inaugurated 10 wellness units in Jharkhand today, taking the number of total such centres in the state to 40. Altogether, 2,300 wellness centres are functioning across the country. In the next four years, we aim to take the number to 1.5 lakh,” he said.
The centres will apprise people of preventive measures against tuberculosis, cancer, diabetes among other diseases.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister doled out token health cards to some of the beneficiaries after his arrival at Prabhat Tara Maidan here.
He also laid foundations stones of two medical colleges at Chaibasa and Koderma in the state.