Almost six months after the launch of the Ayushmaan Bharat — the ambitious healthcare scheme of the Narendra Modi Government — at least 17,000 Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) have started functioning across the country, providing services for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) besides existing services for reproductive and child health, communicable diseases, etc.

This was stated by Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan at an event held here where the Union Health Ministry along with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) officials formed a solidarity human chain as part of the World Health Day celebrations marked on April 7 to reaffirm their commitment to bridging gaps and working collaboratively towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“The Government is committed to strengthening 1,50,000 health facilities as HWCs which will deliver comprehensive primary healthcare closer to where people live in the rural and urban areas,” said Sudan. The theme of World Health Day 2019 is UHC: Everyone, Everywhere.

In fact, India is already working to achieve this aim through its National Health Policy 2017 which has its goal fully aligned with the concept of UHC to be supported by Ayush intervention (traditional system of medicine such as Ayurveda) in the public health system to tackle NCDs like diabetes which is tightening its lethal grip on more and more Indians. A study says that nearly 9.8 crore people in India may have type 2 diabetes by 2030.

As part of the Government’s universal healthcare strategy, scientifically-validated herbal drugs such as BGR-34 composed of herbal medicinal plants like daruharidra, giloy, gudmar and bitter gourds which are known for their anti-diabetic and anti-hyperglycemic agents are being offered to the diabetic patients as curative and preventive health strategy.

The anti-diabetic drug has been jointly developed after standardisation and pre-clinical studies by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) two Lucknow-based labs --Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) and National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI). It is being marketed by Delhi-based AIMIL Pharmaceuticals since 2016.

It is meant to be used by patients of newly diagnosed diabetes only as a measure of management of the disease, Shripad Naik, Union Minister of Ayush too had said last year in the Rajya Sabha.

A senior Ayush official added that infact, of the four lakh patients registered in hospitals in six districts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and Chhattisgarh for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, three lakh persons underwent AYUSH interventions under the Ministry’s programme launched three years ago.

It was found all three lakh patients saw some degree of improvement and their dependence on medicine had decreased, he said. 

Encouraged by the response, the Ayush Ministry has now proposed AYUSH interventions in 12 healthcare categories, including pregnancy and childbirth, neonatal and infant care, family planning and contraception, general outpatient care, and ophthalmic and ENT problems.

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