WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 18-20

India’s health and wellness centres: realizing universal health coverage through comprehensive primary health care

National Health Systems Resource Centre, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Rajani R Ved
National Health Systems Resource Centre, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: RRV is Executive Director at the National Health Systems Resource Centre; the views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization

DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.255344

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In common with other countries in the World Health Organization South-East Asia Region, disease patterns in India have rapidly transitioned towards an increased burden of noncommunicable diseases. This epidemiological transition has been a major driver impelling a radical rethink of the structure of health care, especially with respect to the role, quality and capacity of primary health care. In addition to the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana insurance scheme, covering 40% of the poorest and most vulnerable individuals in the country for secondary and tertiary care, Ayushman Bharat is based on an ambitious programme of transforming India’s 150 000 public peripheral health centres into health and wellness centres (HWCs) delivering universal, free comprehensive primary health care by the end of 2022. This transformation to facilities delivering high-quality, efficient, equitable and comprehensive care will involve paradigm shifts, not least in human resources to include a new cadre of mid-level health providers. The design of HWCs and the delivery of services build on the experiences and lessons learnt from the National Health Mission, India’s flagship programme for strengthening health systems. Expanding the scope of these components to address the expanded service delivery package will require reorganization of work processes, including addressing the continuum of care across facility levels; moving from episodic pregnancy and delivery, newborn and immunization services to chronic care services; instituting screening and early treatment programmes; ensuring high-quality clinical services; and using information and communications technology for better reporting, focusing on health promotion and addressing health literacy in communities. Although there are major challenges ahead to meet these ambitious goals, it is important to capitalize on the current high level of political commitment accorded to comprehensive primary health care.

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