India has crossed a landmark milestone on the journey of universal healthcare. More than 50,000 (50,025) Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) are now operational across the country. Aiming at providing Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) services to the communities closer to their homes, 1.5 lakh AB-HWCs are to be established by December 2022. With more than 50,000 having been established, 1/3 of the target has been met.
This has led to improved access to affordable primary healthcare services for more than 25 crore people.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare congratulated the States/UTs for their efforts in operationalising the HWCs despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “This has been possible due to the joint efforts of the Center and the States/UTs in planning, monitoring at all levels, standardization of processes, the flexibility for adaptation provided to the States/UTs, and building on the health systems created thus far”, he stated.
The HFM specially thanked the frontline health workers, the Medical Officers, the Community Health Officers and ASHAs for their dedication to the cause of providing Comprehensive Primary Health Care services and for supporting millions of people with necessary services in these difficult times. “They are the backbone of the healthcare delivery system. Their contribution during the COVID period has been exemplary”, he said. HWCs have helped in interventions such as risk communication, contact tracing, community surveillance and early identification of cases, and seamless provisioning of non-COVID essential health services for ensuring protection of vulnerable groups, such as the newborn, elderly and those with co-morbidities.
Ayushman Bharat was launched in 2018 with its twin pillars of Health & Wellness Centers (HWCs) and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) with bidirectional linkages between the two for providing the full range of services across the continuum of care. The first AB-HWC was launched by Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on the 14th of April 2018 at Jhangla in Bijapur District of Chhattisgarh.