A first step — on NDA govt.’s Ayushman Bharat

The NDA government’s scheme to provide health cover of ₹5 lakh per year to 10 crore poor and vulnerable(कमजोर/आलोचनीय)families through the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission has taken a step forward with the Union Cabinet approving the modalities(प्रकार/साधन) of its implementation(अमल/कार्यान्वयन). Considering the small window, just over a year, available before the term of the present government ends, urgent action is needed to roll out such an ambitious(महत्त्वाकांक्षी/लालसी) scheme. For a start, the apex(सर्वोच्च/चोटी) council that will steer the programme and the governing board to operationalise(संचालन) it in partnership with the States need to be set up. The States, which have a statutory(कानूनी/
वैधानिक) responsibility for provision(प्रावधान/नियम) of health care, have to act quickly and form dedicated agencies to run the scheme. Since the NHPM represents the foundation for a universal health coverage system that should eventually(फलतः/अंत में) cover all Indians, it needs to be given a sound legal basis, ideally through a separate(अलग/न्यारा) law. This could be on the lines of legislation governing the rights to food and information. Such legislation would strengthen entitlement(पात्रता/हकदारी) to care, which is vital to the scheme’s success. It will also enable much-needed regulatory control over pricing(मूल्य निर्धारण) of hospital-based treatments. The initial norms set for availing(उपयोगी होना/लाभ उठाना) benefits under the NHPM, which subsumes earlier health assurance schemes, appear to make the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as senior citizens, women and children contingent(संख्या/श्रेणी) on families meeting other criteria(मानदंड), except in the case of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe households. The government should take the bold step of including these groups universally; the financial risk can be borne by the taxpayer.
Universal health coverage is defined(परिभाषित) by the WHO as a state when “all people obtain(प्राप्त/हासिल करना) the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them”. With its endorsement(पुष्टि/समर्थन) of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, India will have to constantly raise its ambition during the dozen years to the deadline. This underscores the importance of raising not just core budgetary spending every year, but paying attention to social determinants(निर्धारकों) of health. Affordable housing, planned urban development, pollution control and road safety are some aspects vital(जीवनप्रद/महत्वपूर्ण) for reducing the public health burden. Unfortunately, governments are paying little attention to these issues, as the quality of life erodes even with steady economic growth. In some of its early assessments on the road to universal health coverage, NITI Aayog advocated(वकालत की/पक्षपोषित करना) a State-specific approach rather than a grand national health system to expand access. But the NHPM has a national character, with States playing a crucial(महत्वपूर्ण/निर्णायक) role in its implementation, and beneficiaries(लाभार्थियों) being able to port the service anywhere. It is a challenging task to make all this a reality, and the government will have to work hard to put it in place.

Important Vocabulary
Synonyms: accessible, defenseless, exposed, liable, ready
Antonyms: guarded, protected, safe, secure, strong
Synonyms: lawful, legal, judicial, rightful
Antonyms: illegal, illegitimate, illicit, unlawful
Synonyms: privilege, request, rights, dueness, preemptive
4.Availing(उपयोगी होना/लाभ उठाना)
Synonyms: account, advantage, applicability, appropriateness, fitness
Antonyms: inappropriateness
Synonyms: benchmark, norm, precedent, principle, proof
Antonyms: change, conjecture, fancy, guess, possibility
Synonyms: unforeseen, accidental, chance, dependent, incidental
Antonyms: designed, essential, planned, certain, definite
Synonyms: advocacystaraffirmationstarapprovalstarbackingstarcommercia
Antonyms: denial, disapproval, disfavor, opposition, veto
Synonyms: basic, critical, crucial, decisive, fundamental
Antonyms: additional, extra, inessential, insignificant, meaningless

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