Indu Bhushan, the CEO of ‘Ayushman Bharat’, a flagship scheme of the government, speaks to The Daily Guardian about the role the National Health Authority is playing in monitoring data to fight novel coronavirus and help the underprivileged. Excerpts:
Q. What is the current situation and how the national health authority is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?
A. The response to the Covid-19 crisis is being led by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. We have prepared packages for testing and treatment of about 50 crore people in the country. We want to ensure that these families are not denied testing or treatment just because they can’t afford it.
Q. What kind of role do you think the states also have to play in combatting this crisis?
A. The state governments are leading this process and are on the forefront. Health being subject under state list of our Constitution, is being taken care of by our states in a highly efficient manner. The Central government is helping the state governments with guidelines, etc. We are supporting them with whatever they want and need. We are also helping state governments by providing them with precise data and we keep a constant watch on areas that show a high admission rate of Covid-19 positive cases.
Q. How’s the coordination being done with the states?
A. Coordination is smooth and is taking place at various levels. The needed sharing of data and adhering of protocols is being followed at all levels. The Centre frames the guidelines and the states follow them seamlessly. We are keeping a close tab on migrant workers travelling from one state to another and are trying to keep our supply chains functioning as smoothly as possible.
Q. As far as the private sector participation is concerned, how is the NHA actually working to increase its participation?
A. This is a very important question as private sector has a major role to play specially now with this pandemic at large. If you look at the Covid-19 response from the health perspective much of the burden is being born by the public sector. It is involved in around 80% of the testing and ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme is also present on the standby to help with the mechanics of it.
Private sector has to play a bigger role and here I would like to emphasise that they need to step in not only for Covid-19 treatment, but also for non-Covid-19 cases. As we all know a lot of public hospitals have become dedicated Covid-19 hospitals, those patients have to go somewhere else and they can’t wait. Therefore, we are roping in more hospitals.
Q. What is the technology that is being used?
A. We are very proud of our IT infrastructure as it connects around 50 crore people with more than 21,000 hospitals and 28 states and Union Territories. We have huge amount of data generated on an everyday basis that shows us number of people who are potentially at risk. We have analysed all susceptible groups and are bettering our infrastructure.
Q. Around a crore have been treated in the last year and a half, what do you have to say about that?
A. The credit of these treatments goes to our team and our IT framework. This government is very committed to digital advancements in healthcare and we are making sure that this particular vision is achieved. With this government’s dedication and support we will make sure that we are able to cater to our vast population in the most efficient manner and provide quality access to healthcare to each and every citizen of this country.