Fact Check: How true are government claims about its Health Initiatives?

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The Government made certain claims about its health initiatives including the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Here is a fact check of these claims

An infographic published on the 48-Month portal of the government makes multiple claims about health initiatives of the current government like the Mission Indradhanush, Jan Aushadhi Kendras and Ayushman Bharat. The following article is a fact check of these claims.

Ayushman Bharat scheme_infographic

What about Mission Indradhanush?
The first claim is that ‘Mission Indradhanush’, a vaccination scheme covered 528 districts with 3.15 crore children vaccinated. Immunization Program in India was introduced in 1978 as ‘Expanded Program of Immunization’ (EPI) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. In 1985, the program was modified as ‘Universal Immunization Program’ (UIP) to be implemented in phased manner to cover all districts in the country by 1989-90 with the one of largest health programs in the world. Despite being operational for many years, UIP has been able to fully immunize only 65% children in the first year of their life.

According to the National health portal of Government of India, to strengthen and re-energize the program and achieve full immunization coverage for all children and pregnant women at a rapid pace, the Government of India launched “Mission Indradhanush” in December 2014. As per the portal, the ultimate goal of Mission Indradhanush is to ensure full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women.

In an answer provided in the Lok Sabha in August 2018, it is stated that 319.282 lakh children have been immunized by August 2018. But this is not the first time that such large scale vaccination drives have taken place in India. The immunization program is one of the oldest government programs. For instance, 7.78 crore children across India were vaccinated in 109 districts for Japanese Encephalitis between 2006 & 2010. In 2013-14, 1.2 crore children were vaccinated with Measles vaccine in 45 districts in 13 States with 87.2% coverage. During Phase II, 3.6 crore children were vaccinated in 152 districts in 14 States. The Phase III of the campaign 11.8 crore children (85%) had been vaccinated in 167 districts in 5 States i.e. Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bihar.

Claim: Mission Indradhanush, a mass movement in caring for children has covered 528 districts with 3.15 crore children vaccinated.

Fact: Mission Indradhanush was launched in December 2014 to ensure full immunization for children up to two years of age and pregnant women. A total of 3.19 crore (319.282 lakh) children have been immunized under the scheme till August 2018. Hence, the claim is TRUE. But it has to be noted that this is not the first large scale immunization program or scheme. Such programs have existed for a long time and a greater number of beneficiaries were vaccinated previously.

What about the Jan Aushadi Kendras?
The second claim is about setting up of ~3000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras (JAKs) for cheaper medicines resulting in savings of around 50%. According to the official government website, ‘Jan Aushadhi’ project was launched by Government of India in the year 2008 for providing quality medicines at affordable prices for all. The campaign was undertaken through sale of generic medicines through exclusive outlets namely ‘Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendra’ in various districts of the country.  To have an accelerated growth of the campaign, a new business plan was released in August 2013 (during the UPA government) with an ambitious target of opening 3000 such stores by the end of 2016-17 with a planned budget of Rs.148.82 crores. The plan also contained few changes in the scheme. The scheme could not take off as expected during the UPA government.

After the new Strategic Action Plan (SAP 2015), the number of such stores increased and there was also an increase in the number of drugs that are part of the product basket. The government, in the Lok Sabha, mentioned that 3771 such stores opened in 34 States/UTs between January 2015 & July 2018.  The booklet detailing the list of products & their price is available on the official website. This booklet also provides data on the maximum retail price of the medicines sold in the Jan Aushadi Kendras as compared to the rates in the outside market.  However, the exact amount of saving could not be calculated. The list of functional stores in various states can also be found online.

Claim: ~ 3000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras for cheaper medicines resulting in savings of around 50%.

Fact: Jan Aushadhi was launched by Government of India in the year 2008. 3771 ‘Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) Kendras’ opened in 34 States/Union Territories of the country during the current government. Hence, the first part of the claim is TRUE while the second part about savings remains UNVERIFIED. It has to be noted that this scheme was first launched by the UPA.

Claims about the Ayushman Bharat Scheme
The last claim is that, Ayushman Bharat, is the world’s largest health insurance program that provides for comprehensive health coverage to 10 crore poor families up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year.

The National Health Policy  (NHP) of 2017 lays out priorities in terms developing better financial protection strategies, strengthening regulation and health assurance. This is the third revision of the policy which previously existed in the form of National Health Policy of 2002. The earliest iteration of the policy is the National Health Policy of 1983. The latest NHP was formulated after a situation analysis of the country.

Ayushman Bharat is a National Health Protection Scheme, which is meant to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. The eligible beneficiaries are selected using the SECC deprivation criteria.

Ayushman Bharat subsumes the on-going centrally sponsored schemes – Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS). The RSBY was launched in the year 2008. The Minister of Finance, Arun Jaitley, in the budget speech of 2018-19 said that the National Health Protection Scheme (Ayushman Bharat) will be the world’s largest government funded health care program.

The previous schemes like the RSBY enrolled around 3.5 crore families with a coverage of Rs. 30,000 per annum. States like Andhra Pradesh & Telangana have a functional health insurance scheme ‘Aarogyasri’, launched in the year 2007. These states have not joined the Ayushman Bharat since there will be a huge reduction in the number of beneficiaries who are already covered under the ‘Aarogyasri’ scheme.

Claim: Ayushman Bharat, the world’s largest health insurance program: Comprehensive health coverage to 10 crore poor families up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year.

Fact: Ayushman Bharat, is meant to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families providing coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. This will be the world’s largest government funded health care program. Hence, the claim is TRUE.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here.

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