India, which is witnessing a faster rate of decline in mortality rates of women and children in the last few years, is well on its way to meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for maternal and child health, much ahead of the agreed date of 2030, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Wednesday.
“We are committed to increasing India’s health spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2025, reaching to more than $100 billion. This will mean an actual increase of 345 per cent over the current share, in just eight years,” the Prime Minister said while inaugurating the fourth editor of Partners’ Forum, a 2-day global conference, in which 1,200 high-level delegates from 85 countries, including ministers from 25 countries are participating.
“The India story is one of hope. Hope that roadblocks can be overcome. Hope that behavioural change can be ensured. Hope that rapid progress can be achieved,” Modi said.
The forum, being organised by the Government jointly with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), hopes to accelerate efforts to reduce child and maternal mortality, improve adolescent, child, newborn and maternal health, by learning from the success stories of other countries. This is second such forum to be organised in India, the first one being in 2010.
When the millennium development goals were agreed upon, India had one of the world’s highest mortality rates for women and children. Now, India has come a long way. “With one million registered social health activists, or ASHA workers, and 2.32 lakh anganwadi nurse mid-wives, we have a formidable force of women frontline health workers. They are the strength of our programme,” Modi said.
He said that countries are committed to empowering communities, improving health and education, ending poverty and boosting economic growth and ultimately, leaving no one behind. “The health of mothers will determine the health of the children and the health of children will determine the health of our tomorrow,” the Prime Minister said.
His government, Modi said, has launched a number of programmes that are aimed at improving the health and well-being of women and children. Ujwala, which provides clean cooking fuel to 58 million poor households, Indradhanush, the universal vaccination scheme that covered 32.8 million children and 8.4 million pregnant women in the last three years, and Swachh Bharat Mission which increased sanitation coverage in rural areas to 95 per cent from 39 per cent in three years are some of them.
Another landmark scheme of the government, he said is Ayushman Bharat, which has a two-fold strategy. While the first focuses on providing comprehensive primary care at community level through 150,000 health and wellness centres by 2022, the second is Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana which aims at providing cashless, health insurance cover up to Rs 5,00,000 per family, per year, to 500 million citizens who are most poor and vulnerable. “We have already provided free treatment worth Rs 700 crore to 5 lakh families under this scheme within 10 weeks of its launch,” Modi said.
Partners’ Forum is a global health partnership launched in September 2005. This partnership is an alliance of more than 1,000 members, across 10 constituencies in 92 countries: academic, research and teaching institutions; donors and foundations; healthcare professionals; multilateral agencies; non-governmental organisations; partner countries; global financing mechanisms and the private sector.