Written by : Jayati Dubey
August 18, 2023
Since its inception, the WHO has been endorsing India's Ayushman Bharat initiative, recognising the importance of countries prioritising investment in primary healthcare. This aligns with the consistent message conveyed by the WHO to nations around the world.
He further noted the importance of countries across all income groups investing in primary healthcare (PHC). This investment, he stated, can deliver more than 80% of essential services and facilitate early detection of pandemic outbreaks.
During his visit to a health and wellness centre in Gandhinagar, where he attended a global summit on traditional medicine, he also stressed the significance of maintaining vigilance amid the classification of the EG.5 strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a "variant of interest."
The WHO has been advocating for such investments across countries, and he commended India for taking the lead in implementing this approach.
In February 2018, the Central Government unveiled plans to establish 150,000 Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) by converting existing sub-centres and primary health centres, forming the foundational cornerstone of the Ayushman Bharat initiative.
Reflecting on his visit to the health and wellness centre, Dr. Tedros expressed his satisfaction in observing the functioning of telemedicine services, particularly a doctor providing care remotely to a patient located 40 kilometres away.
This remote service not only enhances healthcare accessibility but also reduces the need for patients to undertake long journeys for medical consultations.
One Earth One Health - Advantage Healthcare India
Addressing the "One Earth One Health - Advantage Healthcare India" gathering in Gandhinagar, Dr. Tedros praised India's utilisation of digital health platforms, as showcased by the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres.
He emphasised the importance of medical virtual teams (MVT) alongside national capacity building, as they collectively contribute to improved healthcare delivery. He commended India's leadership in digital health during its G20 presidency, envisioning a future where digital technologies revolutionise healthcare accessibility on a global scale.
Additionally, the WHO's first-of-its-kind global summit on traditional medicines, held in Gujarat, aimed to bring together experts to explore the latest scientific advancements in the sector. This summit served as a platform for knowledge exchange, with the goal of ensuring health for all through innovative approaches.
In the broader context, Dr. Tedros underscored the pivotal role of primary healthcare in any health system. He noted that a robust primary healthcare framework could provide many required services and enable timely outbreak detection.
By investing in primary healthcare, nations, whether high, middle, or low-income, can make a substantial impact on healthcare provision and disease surveillance.