Dilip Shanghvi is an Indian businessman. He founded Sun Pharmaceuticals. The Government of India awarded him the civilian honour of the Padma Shri in 2016.
History will have many things to say about our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi who will beyond doubt leave many deep-rooted impressions on India. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, our Prime Minister deserves to be commended most for his initiatives in the field of healthcare. He put healthcare on top of the Gujarat growth agenda when he was the Chief Minister of the state and has shaped the public health policy in the national agenda.
The mark of a true visionary leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action which instils hope and belief. Leaders empower people and carve a path that will guide generations after them. Prime Minister Modi’s concerns about healthcare and his initiatives right since his days in Gujarat is perhaps what provided him the vision that he has been relentlessly pursuing to accomplish all across the country.
When he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat between 2001 and 2014, he left no stone unturned to strengthen the healthcare system of the state. He launched the Mukhyamantri Amrutum Yojana which covered the hospitalisation and surgical procedures up to Rs. 5 lakh per family per annum. The State’s Health Department selected private hospitals to provide relevant services.
The Chiranjeevi Yojna and E-mamta schemes to involve private obstetricians to reduce both Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternity Mortality Rate (MMR) were novel initiatives. By early 2012 there were over 680,000 deliveries done through 700 private specialists. Introduction of free Ambulance Service on dialing 108 proved to be a boon for remote tribal-dominated areas of Gujarat. Chiranjeevi Yojana was later adopted by many states to reduce the mortality rate.
Gujarat’s success in healthcare management for the under-privileged found wing when he became the Prime Minister of India. Like a true visionary, he understood the root causes of India’s health ailments. The Swachh Bharat Mission and Ujjawala Yojna might appear to address issues of cleanliness and cooking fuel, but they are all geared to augment the healthcare backbone of the impoverished. Improper sanitation and smoke-ridden cooking in poor households are the reasons for most communicable and non-communicable diseases in India. Addressing them was his priority.
Finally, recognising the perils of public discontent about health, he became the first prime minister to prioritise universal health coverage (UHC) under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Indeed, during the last six years, his government has taken various initiatives to encourage the healthcare and pharmaceuticals sector that will be a shining example for generations to come.
The pharmaceuticals industry of India is today regarded as ‘pharmacy of the world’. The government’s recently announced steps to achieve self-reliance in bulk pharmaceuticals and its decision to revamp the pharma R&D policy are welcome. Our Prime Minister has, on several occasions, expressed a strong desire for the Indian pharmaceutical companies to invest in innovation and to further streamline the regulatory processes in the system. I believe these measures will go a long way in further consolidating our position as an emerging leader in pharmaceuticals.
Ayushman Bharat, the world’s largest healthcare scheme aimed at providing health insurance of Rs 5 lakh per family annually is expected to cover more than ten crore poor families. In less than two years, over a crore people have benefitted from it. Women and those staying in rural areas are among the primary beneficiaries of this scheme. The Jan Aushadhi Yojana is also playing an important role in improving access to affordable, generic medicines. His remarkable ability to do more with less has helped in delivering higher economic benefit and value for patients. This is the true hallmark of a leader who is both far-sighted and pragmatic.
This year, our Prime Minister announced the National Digital Health Mission, which will completely revolutionise the health sector in India. It is a holistic, voluntary healthcare programme that will reduce the existing gap between various stakeholders such as doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, and citizens by bringing them together and connecting them in integrated digital health infrastructure.
I believe the biggest challenge in India is access to quality healthcare and programs like Ayushman Bharat and National Digital Health Mission are progressive steps that will bridge the gaps. Time and again, our Prime Minister has reiterated his commitment to reduce the financial burden and ensure affordable healthcare for every Indian. Here’s wishing him more power and strength on his 70th birthday to achieve the healthcare vision he has set for our country.