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The National Health Assurance Scheme, Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana (PMJAY), was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Ranchi, Jharkhand on 23 September 2018.

The scheme has been launched with a vision to provide the poor and the underprivileged with better healthcare and treatment. Touted as the world’s largest government healthcare programme, the scheme will be funded with 60 percent contribution from the Centre and the remaining from the states.

The first component of Ayushman Bharat involves creation of 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres. These will provide comprehensive primary healthcare (CPHC), covering both — maternal and child health services and non-communicable diseases, with essential drugs and diagnostic services at free of cost.

The first Health and Wellness Centre was launched at Jangla, Bijapur, Chhattisgarh on 14 April 2018. During the event in Jharkhand, the PM unveiled plaques to lay the foundation stone for medical colleges at Chaibasa and Koderma. Apart from this, he also inaugurated 10 Health and Wellness Centres.

The number of Health and Wellness Centres across the country has reached 2,300 and within four years their number will rise to 1.5 lakh.

The second component, PMJAY provides health protection cover to poor families. The scheme envisions health assurance cover of up to Rs five lakh per family per year. Approximately 50 crore beneficiaries will be covered across the country under this scheme. It covers secondary as well as tertiary care hospitalisation. The scheme has been adopted by 31 states and union territories except for Delhi, Punjab, Odisha, Kerala and Telangana as these states seek more clarity on it.

The scheme will cover 1,300 illnesses, including serious illnesses such as heart diseases, kidney and liver disorders, cancer, among others. Private hospitals too would be part of this scheme. More than 13,000 hospitals across the country have joined the scheme so far. In addition, 2,500 modern hospitals will come up in Tier-II and -III cities. This will create employment opportunities for many.

Within 10 days from the launch, 23,287 claims worth Rs 38 crore have been approved under the assurance scheme. As of 2 October 2018, a total of 23,299 claims worth Rs 45 crore were submitted, of which 23,287 claims have been approved.

As per data compiled by Projects Today, till 30 September 2018, a total of 1,852 hospital projects are in the pipeline entailing an investment of Rs 1,40,029 crore.

One of the major hospital projects, BRS Medicity worth Rs 5,450 crore, will be developed near Amravati, Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh. The project will be developed in phases on 100 acre of land. It will include facilities like a medical university with a medical college worth Rs 1,150 crore for 800 students. A super-speciality 1,500-bed hospital will comprise trauma centres, operation theatres, OPD, ICU, among other facilities.

The project will also house medical device manufacturing industry, knowledge process outsourcing centre, stem cell research centre, analytics and quantum centre. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu laid the foundation stone for the project in August 2017. An amount of Rs 231.25 crore was sanctioned in the Budget 2018-19 and Rs 69.72 crore has been released.

Another big-ticket project will come up in Haryana. The Department of Medical Education & Research, Haryana, is planning to construct a Medical Science University in Karnal district at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore. The project will have multi-specialities, super-specialties, colleges of nursing, physiotherapy, and skill development centre for para-medical courses.

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