Govt. gets ready to include ASHA and anganwadi workers/helpers in its Ayushman Bharat scheme

The decision to include healthcare workers in the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the presentation of the interim Union Budget. File

After the Central government announced its decision to include Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Anganwadi workers and helpers into the free cover for health treatment under Ayushman Bharat Scheme, the Health Ministry has so far received Aadhaar details of 23 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers and over three lakh ASHA workers from various States.

“The government aims to get their cards ready by the end of the month as the scheme comes into effect from March 1 this year,” said Health Secretary Apurva Chandra.

Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) provides health coverage up to ₹ 5 lakh a family a year to poor and vulnerable families and the decision to include this group of healthcare workers was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the presentation of the interim Union Budget 2024-25 recently.

The Ministry has noted that the ASHA programme is a key component of community processes that has continuously evolved over the last decade and a half. “Serving as a facilitator, mobiliser and provider of community level care, ASHA has emerged as the cornerstone of the National Health Mission and the group has been acknowledged for their substantial contribution in improving access to care for communities. ASHAs are also a critical component of the Community platforms like Village Health and Sanitation Committees, Mahila Arogya Samiti and Community Based Planning and Monitoring under National Health Mission. ASHAs have been playing a key role in the country’s response for prevention and management of the COVID-19. In addition to performing tasks related to COVID-19, ASHAs also continued to support community members for accessing essential health services,” Mr. Chandra added.

According to figures released by the Health Ministry there were over 13 lakh Anganwadi workers and over 10 lakh anganwadi helpers in the country as on 31st December 2023. In its annual ASHA update 2020-21 it further adds that the country has 9.83 Lakh ASHAs in position against the target of 10.35 lakh across 35 States and UTs (i.e., all except Goa and Chandigarh) making it the world’s largest community volunteer programme.

In India, currently 55 crore individuals corresponding to 12 crore families are covered under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, according to government figures while many States/UTs implementing AB-PMJAY have further expanded the beneficiary base, at their own cost.

The government has created approximately 28.45 crore Ayushman cards till December 20, 2023 and a total of 6.11 crore hospital admissions amounting to ₹78,188 crores had been authorised under the scheme, of which 1.7 crore hospitals admissions worth over ₹25,000 crores have been authorised during the year 2023 (Jan-Dec 2023).

“Also a total of 26,901 hospitals including 11,813 private hospitals have been empanelled under AB-PMJAY to provide healthcare services to scheme beneficiaries and the scheme has ensured gender equity in access to healthcare services with women accounting for approximately 49% of the total Ayushman cards created and approximately 48% of total authorised hospital admissions,” said the government data.

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