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Modi touts healthcare schemes in virtual address

Jan Aushadhi illustration - affordable, generic medicines concept.
Jan Aushadhi Diwas aims to make medicines more affordable. Image credit: Bablesh Singh / 123rf

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi touted his administration’s healthcare schemes and their benefits to those in need in terms of savings.

The Prime Minister made a virtual address at the culmination of Janaushadhi Week, observed from March 1st to March 7th, highlighting the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana initiative (or simply Jan Aushaudi), which seeks to expand access to affordable medicines. At the event, which marked the inauguration of the 7,500th Jan Aushadhi Kendra at North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) in Meghalaya state capital Shillong, Modi claimed such programmes saved those in need Rs 50,000 crore annually. 

“It is clear from my discussion with people who run the Jan Aushadhi centres at every corner of the country and some of its beneficiaries, that this scheme is becoming a very big companion of poor and middle-class families,” Modi said. “This scheme is becoming the medium of both service and employment.”

Modi also celebrated Ayushman Bharat – the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) initiative of his government, which provides health insurance coverage for impoverished households. “The Ayushman Bharat scheme is helping fifty crore people get Rs 5 lakh worth of treatment,” he said. “Over 1.5 crore people have already taken this benefit. It is estimated that it has led to savings of around Rs 30,000 crore for people.” 

He elaborated that “if we collate the savings being affected by Jan Aushadhi, Ayushman Bharat and decline in prices of drugs and stents (medical devices) if we only take government schemes in the health sector, then poor and middle-income groups are saving around Rs 50,000 crore per year,” the Prime Minister said.

On the same occasion last year, the Prime Minister said “we have reduced the prices of 850 medicines of common use,” stating that the medicines were fifty to ninety percent cheaper than market rates. As a result, the Prime Minister said that lakhs of families had saved around Rs 1,000 crore (US$143 million) on the cost of medicines. As of March 4th, 2021, sales in the fiscal year 2020-21 have led to a total saving of around Rs 3,600 crore for citizens. 

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