Ayushman Bharat and Health and Wellness Centres
As per the World Health Organization, "Primary health care is a whole-of-society approach to health and well-being centred on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities. It addresses the broader determinants of health and focuses on the comprehensive and interrelated aspects of physical, mental and social health and wellbeing.
It provides whole-person care for health needs throughout the lifespan, not just for a set of specific diseases. Primary health care ensures people receive comprehensive care - ranging from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care - as close as feasible to people’s everyday environment.
Stronger primary health care is essential to achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and universal health coverage. It contributes to the attainment of other goals beyond the health goal (SDG3), including those on poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, work and economic growth, reducing inequality and climate action.
India’s National Health Policy commits the government to investing a major proportion (>2/3rds) of resources to PHC. The main mechanism to achieve this are the 150 000 Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs), which are intended to become the main points of contact for communities within the public health system. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, covering around 70% of out-patient care, including noncommunicable diseases and maternal and child health services. These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services as well as referral access to secondary and tertiary health care.
This is part of the government’s effort to achieve universal health coverage through is flagship initiative, the Ayushman Bharat programme. Launched in 2018, the programme includes the health insurance component, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojna (PM-JAY)."
In 2020-21, when Covid paralyzed the world, some of the worst hit groups, especially in India, were the migrant laborers and their kin back home. It was during this period that team Aripana reached out to meet the nutritional requirements of hundreds of families of migrant laborers, residing in Kabir Chak area of Darbhanga district. This engagement also brought us face to face with the non-existent health services in the community.
In March 2023, with the help of local representatives, team Aripana conducted a free Medical Camp in the Primary School, Gadhiya, Darbhanga, campus. More than 150 community members, most of them senior-citizens or young mothers, participated in the camp, which included free health checkup and consultation. Free medicines were also distributed based on needs.
The experience has also helped our team understand the health needs of the community better and brought us a step closer to developing an integrated approach.
Darbhanga district has 1 Medical College, 2 referral hospitals, 13 PHCs, 37 Additional PHCs and 261 Health Sub Centres. In the coming months, other than conducting regular health-camps, we plan to conduct field surveys and research on primary healthcare services in Darbhanga and develop a long-term intervention based on the needs of the community.