Learnings from implementation of UHC in Jammu and Kashmir
Article by Shri Atal Dulloo, IAS (AGMUT:1989) – Financial Commissioner (Additional Chief Secretary), Jammu & Kashmir
Achieving universal health coverage, including quality essential service coverage and financial protection for all, is target 3.8 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) - the Vision of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY). Ever since the launch of AB PM-JAY more than 2 Crore treatments have been provided to the eligible beneficiaries across the country. AB PM-JAY being the world’s largest public funded scheme is etching history as it is touching lives of the most vulnerable. The scheme inherently aims at streamlining the pricing of various packages & procedures and indirectly promoting equity and social justice.
With no history of any health protection pubic-funded initiative before AB PM-JAY, Jammu & Kashmir launched AB PM-JAY on 1st December, 2018 which adopts a continuum of care approach with provision of financial protection for accessing curative care at the secondary and tertiary levels through engagement with both public and private sector for achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). After two years of successful implementation, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir decided to extend the benefits of AB PM-JAY to the entire population through 100% government funding mechanism and launched Universal Health Coverage (AB PM-JAY SEHAT) by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on 26th December, 2020. In a short span of over 7 months in spite of the COVID pandemic, 1.15 Lakh treatments worth 140 Crores have been provided to the residents of Jammu & Kashmir and the uptake is expected to increase further. The response has been overwhelming; already more than 50 Lakh beneficiaries have so far been registered under the scheme(s). More than 3000 residents of Jammu & Kashmir have already received treatment from reputed health care providers from outside Jammu & Kashmir under the portability feature of the scheme. The scheme is bound to improve the health-care service delivery system on one hand and strengthen the public hospitals on another hand. The public health care providers in Jammu & Kashmir have already started feeling empowered and are in process of augmenting the available facilities and services.
As UHC in J&K is scaling new heights, it is an honor to inform that J&K has launched several new and innovative initiatives:
- 1. Reducing inequality in population coverage by ensuring 100% coverage of residents of Jammu & Kashmir via inclusion of left out families in the SECC 2011 database under UHC and creating awareness among the beneficiaries and increasing utilization under the scheme.
- 2. Effective coverage via ensuring that entire population has been issued Ayushman cards. In this regard, a comprehensive on-ground Ayushman card generation campaign called “Aapke Dwar Ayushman” by NHA is being complemented by Union Territory specific initiative “Gaon Gaon Ayushman”. The campaign seeks to leverage grass-roots network of frontline health workers, Panchayati Raj executives (elected representatives and officials), and other resources to conduct door-to-door beneficiary mobilization and Ayushman card generation. Additionally, pamphlet with Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor’s letter is being sent to every household of Jammu & Kashmir to improve registrations and create awareness about the scheme. The initiatives have seen tremendous response from all stakeholders contributing to the generation of over 19 Lakh Ayushman cards in a very short duration of 6 months.
- 3. Evaluate reforms and monitor progress; adjust implementation through Health Financing Baseline Assessment. The objective is to systematically assess the quality of health financing policies and institutions in the state and improve efforts to monitor progress in health financing at state level and helping to identify key areas of health financing policy which need to be addressed in order to make progress towards UHC.
- 4. Quality of care initiative via introduction of quality certification program and quality indicators for the empanelled hospitals.
- 5. Established strong governance & capacity building arrangements to ensure implementation of strategic reforms
With the right intent and leadership, AB PM-JAY is destined to go a long way in ushering in the new era of better, affordable, and accessible health care services in the country.