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Motivating people for healthy India through ‘Mann ki Baat’ 

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Dr Vinod K Paul

Health and development are intertwined—only healthy citizens can contribute to the overall growth of a nation. Our government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is committed to this ideal, and has worked relentlessly to make India’s healthcare system future-ready. The Prime Minster lays utmost emphasis on incessantly improving the health of our people and has ensured priority-driven action to improve India’s health services. The Government has undertaken deep structural and sustained reforms to strengthen the healthcare sector and has also implemented conducive strategies to achieve saturation level coverage nationwide.

The Government’s proactive approach has led to a paradigm shift in the healthcare sector. Today, the focus is on both, health and wellness rather than just treating the sick. A number of schemes have been rolled out by the Government to boost India’s healthcare ecosystem. World’s largest government-funded healthcare program—Ayushman Bharat (AB-PMJAY), Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM), Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), a strengthened National Health Mission (NHM), Pradhan Mantri SurakshitMatritva Abhiyan (PMSMA), e-Sanjeevani OPD and Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya JanaushadhiPariyojana (PMBJP), are just some of the initiatives that the Government has taken to ensure all-round transformation in the  health sector.

There is an increase of 69% in Medical Colleges since 2014 (from 387 to 655). Of the proposed 22 new AIIMS, 19 are operational. Over 35 crore citizens’ digital health account (ABHA) have been created.  Telemedicine has seen maintstream adoption with 11 crore patients served till date under e-Sanjeevani. Under Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (HWC) initiative, 156,000 sub-centres (SCs) and primary health centres (PHCs) have undergone transformation. A new mid-level health professional, community health officer, has been deployed. HWCs at SCs are mandated to provide 105 medicines and 14 diagnostic tests, and those at PHCs provide as many as 172 free medicines and 63 free diagnostic tests.

The value of all the government schemes is only realized through their last-mile delivery. This requires pro-active ownership and participation of the people.   In this regard, the Prime Minister has optimally tapped into the potential of radio as a means to engage the masses through the ‘Mann ki Baat’ program which, over the years, has had a massive impact in building a healthy nation.

Through this program, he has time and again invoked the idea of good health among people. Prime Minister Modi believes that “Health does not simply mean freedom from diseases. A healthy life is every person’s right.” He has extensively used ‘Mann ki Baat’ to spread awareness about the various Government health schemes and how they have benefitted crores of people across the nation, particularly in rural areas.

I remember the Prime Minister interacting with the beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat on ‘Mann ki Baat’ who expressed their gratitude for making quality healthcare affordable. Such interactions play a key role in boosting the confidence of the potential beneficiaries in availing the benefits of the welfare scheme, propelling India’s dream of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The Prime Minister’s announcement of reduced cost of stent implantation and knee surgery and provision of insurance of 5 lakh rupees for treatment to about 10 crore families was heard far and wide. Today, the Ayushman Bharat scheme has facilitated access to healthcare services for over 4.8 crore individuals.

When the Union Government launched ‘Poshan Abhiyaan’ in 2018, the Prime Minister called for a Jan Andolan to improve nutritional indicators among children and mothers. Since then, many Self-Help Groups and Anganwadi Centres have found unique and targeted solutions to free the children of the nation from malnutrition and stunting. When initiatives like ‘Project Sampoorna’ from Assam and  ‘PoshanMatka’ from Madhya Pradesh found mention in ‘Mann ki Baat’ many other state organizations replicated similar models in their region. Not only that, such recognition brought more people into the existing movements by boosting their morale.

India has a long history of traditional medicine, which dates back thousands of years. The government has taken several steps to promote the use of AYUSH systems in prevention, wellness and treatment. ‘Mann ki Baat’ conversations of the Prime Minister have been instrumental in generating phenomenal awareness among the countrymen about our traditional healthcare systems. This has contributed toward heightened demand for holistic healthcare and a massive increase in the use of AYUSH products. There is now a rising clamor for aligning traditional and modern systems for the larger cause of healthy lives.

A very empowering nationwide impact of ‘Mann ki Baat’ was observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. From eliciting people’s cooperation in wearing masks and social distancing, acknowledging the efforts of frontline workers, to encouraging people to get vaccinated, ‘Mann ki Baat’ as a medium proved its mettle as a harbinger of hope, resolve and confidence. The Prime Minister provided  a strong and decisive leadership with clear guidance for a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He used the ‘Mann ki Baat’ platform to make a personal connect with people as a caring elder of the family in those difficult time.

‘Mann ki Baat’ has become a powerful tool for building national solidarity for a healthy India.  When Priyanka Priyadarshini heard about Ni-Kshay Mitra on ‘Mann ki Baat’, she adopted five patients to support them through their journey of recovery!

Prime Minister touched several specific topics related to health in ‘Mann ki Baat’ from TB to Kalazar and from swachhta to holistic health.  He also talked about the sensitive issue of mental health. Prime Minister discussed this ‘taboo’ topic and encouraged people to have an open conversation and help those in a difficult mental state.

In a recent episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’. Prime Minister talked about organ transplantation. He inspired citizens to do more to promote organ transplantation. His poignant conversation with two families whose kin donated organs to give life to others brought tears to my eyes.

People have found a friend and a guiding voice in the Prime Minister and when he calls for health promotion and care through ‘Mann ki Baat’, the nation truly listens and acts.

Logo of Mann Ki Baat-100 https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1edeDzVl1YALOPRJ5LEbCkCpVbwcdKRA8?usp=sharing

The writer is a member-NITI Aayog.

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