From expanding the health insurance cover under the government's flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme to offering 15 lakh new medical institutions across the country, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan is being touted as one of the most successful ministers of the Modi Cabinet. Following the government's first Union Budget on July 5 at Parliament, Vardhan will be sharing the blueprint for the healthcare revamp, in conversation with News Nation at our exclusive 'Modi Budget 2.0' Sammelan tomorrow.
In her marathon Budget speech at Parliament, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced Rs 62,659.12 crore outlay for the health sector in the 2019-2020 fiscal, the highest in the last two financial years. The health outlay for this financial year saw an increase of around 19 per cent over the 2018-2019 fiscal when it was Rs 52,800 crore.
The budgetary allocation for the sector is Rs 60,908.22 crore, with Rs 6,400 crore earmarked for the centre's flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY).
The AB-PMJAY is a flagship scheme of the Union government that aims at providing annual health cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation to over 10.74 crore vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries).
Apart from AB-PMJAY, the government has also allocated Rs 2,000 crore for converting district hospitals into new medical colleges and Rs 1,361 crore for strengthening government medical colleges (undergraduate) and central government health institutions and Rs 20 crore for setting up State Institutions of Paramedical Sciences in the states and for setting up colleges of para-medical education.
Who is Dr Harsh Vardhan?
Doctor-turned-politician Harsh Vardhan in early June took charge as the health minister almost five years after he was divested of it. The 64-year-old also holds the Science and Technology and Earth Sciences portfolios.
Vardhan, who represents the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat in Delhi, in 2019 elections defeated Congress candidate Jai Prakash Agarwal by a margin of 2,28,145 votes to retain the seat. While Vardhan received 52.94 votes, Agarwal polled 29.67 votes. He was also the Chief Ministerial candidate for the BJP in the 2013 Delhi assembly election.