The litmus test for the government’s ambitious healthcare scheme, Ayushman Bharat—Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), has begun with around 1,000 patients seeking treatment in just one day after its formal launch.
The government has sent a two-page customized letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to 4 million beneficiaries explaining the importance and benefits of the scheme, according to the ministry of health and family welfare.
As many as 20 patients were admitted and operated on at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, Jharkhand, on the inaugural day of the scheme. The first birth after the scheme’s official launch was that of a girl, who was born to a beneficiary on Monday in the hospital.
“When we started the pilot of AB-PMJAY in Haryana, the first baby was also a girl named Karishma. We named her Ayushman Devi, inspired by the scheme’s name. This is really heartening that the first baby, after the formal launch of the scheme, is also a girl. Our government is promoting the girl child in a big way and this event is in tune with that,” said Union health minister J.P. Nadda.
Dubbed “Modicare”, AB-PMJAY could be a potential game-changer in the upcoming electoral battles, as well as for the healthcare landscape of India. The scheme aims at providing an annual health cover of ₹5 lakh per family to about 500 million economically deprived people based on the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) data. It is being touted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as the world’s largest healthcare programme.