Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the poor and needy have been able to save Rs 50,000 crore annually due to various health-related measures taken up by his government like providing affordable medicines, healthcare and reducing the prices of medical devices.
Modi, who dedicated to the nation the 7,500th Janaushadhi Kendra at North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) in Shillong, also said the move to provide affordable medicines through the Janaushadhi scheme is spreading across the length and breadth of the country.
In a virtual address regarding the 'Janaushadhi Week' celebrated across the nation from March 1 to March 7 to create awareness about the 'Janaushadhi' scheme, the Prime Minister said it is helping the countrymen living in tribal areas in the North East and the mountainous areas.
''Today, when the 7,500th centre has been inaugurated, it has been held in Shillong. It is clear from this how much public health centres are expanding in the North East,'' Modi said.
He said that the dedication of the 7,500th centre is important as there were not even 100 centres in India six years ago and asked to achieve the target of 10,000 centres.
The Prime Minister, who also interacted with beneficiaries and people associated with the scheme at five locations — Shimla, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Mangalore and Maruthi Nagar in Diu, further said, ''It is clear from my discussion with people who run the Janaushadhi 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. This scheme is becoming the medium of both service and employment''.
Stating that poor and middle-class families are saving about Rs 3,600 crore every year on expensive medicines through the scheme, Modi said it is promoting 'Aatamnirbharta' among women as more than 1,000 centres are being run by the women.
Besides, he said till now more than 11 crore sanitary napkins have been sold through these centres and under the Janaushadhi Janani mission, and important nutrients, as well as supplements for pregnant women, are being provided through the centres.
Modi further said now 75 Ayush medicines are also available in Janaushadhi centres. Patients will benefit by getting the medicines cheaply and the field of Ayurveda and Ayush medicine will also be benefitted.
He also asked state governments and officials to work towards having 75 districts in the country where there are more than 75 Janaushadhi centres on India's 75 years of independence.
Underlining the various steps taken up by his government to make healthcare affordable to the poor and needy, he said prices of essential drugs as well as medical devices such as stents and knee implants have been reduced manifold.
''It has led to the saving of Rs 12,500 crore per year for the needy people. The Ayushman Bharat scheme is helping 50 crore people get Rs 5 lakh worth of treatment. 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.
''It means that if we collate the savings being affected by Janaushadhi, 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.
Stating that for a long time health was considered to be the only subject of disease and treatment, he said the topic of health is not confined to just disease and treatment but affects the economic and social fabric of the country and the government has worked on the causes of disease too for a holistic approach to health.
He cited examples of the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, free LPG connections, Ayushman Bharat, Mission Indradhanush, Poshan Abhiyan and recognition of yoga to illustrate the holistic nature of the government's approach towards health.
The effort of the government has been to ensure that no one should be deprived of the benefits of medical science and treatment should be cheap, accessible for the public, he said, adding ''with this thinking policies and programmes are being made today''.
To promote the Janaushadhi scheme, Modi said the incentive has been increased to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 2.5 lakh, while an additional incentive of Rs 2 lakh incentive for women, SC/ST, and for North East people have been provided to help create the infrastructure.
Highlighting India's achievement in the field of pharmaceuticals, he said the country is the world's pharmacy.
''Today, free corona vaccine is being administered in government hospitals. The cheapest in the world i.e. only Rs 250 vaccine is being given in private hospitals. The country is proud of its scientists today that we have the Made-in-India vaccine for ourselves and also to help the world,'' Modi said.
To enhance medical education, he said before 2014, where there were about 55,000 MBBS seats in the country. In 6 years, it has been increased by more than 30,000. Similarly, in the PG seats – which used to be at 30,000 – more than 24,000 new seats have been added. He also said 180 new medical colleges have been established in the last six years, while 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres have been set up in villages, 50 thousand of which have already started functioning. The Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana aims to provide quality medicines at an affordable price.