Implementation of Ayushman Bharat Centres scheme on track in most states

The implementation of Ayushman Bharat - Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC) scheme is on track in most states with a clear roadmap for achieving targets set for December, according to a third party assessment report released on Tuesday.

The report said the launch of AB-HWC has enabled translation of the vision of moving from selective to comprehensive primary healthcare package enunciated in the National Health Policy 2017 and overall, there has been an improvement in equity in access, despite existing constraints such as infrastructure availability and status of peripheral health facilities, a health ministry statement said.

In February 2018, the government announced 1,50,000 AB-HWCs to be established across India by December 2022.

Third party evaluation is important for proper assessment of the functioning and implementation of the AB-HWC, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said underscoring the government is committed to ensure affordable and accessible healthcare for all.

Mandaviya on Tuesday released the findings of a third party assessment of AB-HWC in 18 states of India.

Ayushman Bharat Centres scheme

Appreciating the findings of the report, Mandaviya said, "AB-HWC was envisioned by the prime minister to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to the last mile. In this regard, third party evaluation is important for proper assessment of the functioning and implementation of the scheme."

He stated that the report will act as a "guiding principle" to plan better in the future.

Underscoring the importance of feedback and monitoring, the minister noted that necessary steps will be taken to further strengthen the scheme, a health ministry statement said.

He highlighted that the government is coordinating with states to ensure last mile delivery through teleconsultation.

He stated that the "government is committed to provide best healthcare to all", the statement stated.

As part of the key findings of the report, effective communication was noted from district to PHC-HWC and SHC-HWC resulting in translation of policy decisions into action, faster and better.

Client satisfaction with the services provided was much higher among those who received services from HWCs as compared to those who received services from non-HWCs across all the four parameters measured - treatment, medicines, diagnostics and cleanliness.

The evaluation also brought out requirement of a definite timeline for rolling out all the services packages.

The timelines have now been fixed, the statement said.

Dr V K Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog congratulated the research teams for the assessment report and suggested that a governance structure should be established for daily monitoring and review of AB-HWCs, the statement said.

He also highlighted the need to further train the human resources at AB-HWCs.

The assessment of AB-HWCs in 18 states has been done in two phases by non-governmental entities, GRAAM and JHPIEGO as well as AIIMS, New Delhi from government sector for 2020-21.

The primary aim of this exercise was to assess the pace of rollout of AB-HWCs in different states and to identify specific challenges in their rollout.

In keeping with the priorities for AB-HWC, the assessment specifically focussed on free essential medicines, diagnostic services, teleconsultation services and health promotion activities.

Given that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic occurred during the process of the implementation, this assessment also allowed an evaluation of the bidirectional impact of HWC roll-out and the COVID pandemic, the statement stated.

The assessment was undertaken using a cross-sectional study design with a mixed-methods approach.

The 18 states were selected to cover the spectrum of epidemiological transition levels as defined by the Global Burden of Disease India study with a higher focus on Northeastern states.

The study covered a sample of 317 facilities across 18 states with 117 PHCs/UPHCs and 220 SHCs.

1,002 users from upgraded and 1,015 users from non-upgraded facilities were interviewed.

The assessment covered both types of comparisons pre- and post-conversion of the HWCs; and HWCs and non-HWCs within the same district, the statement said.


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