The Centre has said that over 41,000 Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres (HWC) ensured that people get both COVID-19 and non-essential health services amid the coronavirus outbreak in India, thereby catering to over 8.8 crore people in the past five months.
Citing examples about the community work done by HWC workers, the government said that in Jharkhand, as part of a state wide intensive public health survey week, the HWC teams screened people for influenza like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) symptoms and facilitated testing for COVID-19.
The HWC team at Subalaya, Odisha, conducted health check-ups and created awareness among people about preventive measures for COVID-19 such as frequent handwashing with soap and water, wearing masks/face covers while stepping out in public spaces, maintaining adequate physical distancing when interacting with people, etc, it said.
The HWC team of Grandhi in Rajasthan supported the local district administration in screening all travellers for COVID-19 at the Bikaner-Jodhpur border check post. Similarly, the HWC Tynring team in Meghalaya conducted orientation of community leaders and school teachers on preventive measures to prevent community spread of COVID-19.
"...8.8 crore footfalls have been recorded at the HWCs in the five months since February 1st of this year. This is almost the same as the number of footfalls recorded from April 14th, 2018, to January 31st, 2020, in 21 months, despite restrictions on movement of people during the intervening lockdown periods this year," the statement added.
Besides, around 1.41 crore individuals were screened at the HWCs for hypertension, 1.13 crore for diabetes and 1.34 crore for oral, breast or cervical cancer, it added. According to the government, as many as 6.53 lakh yoga and wellness sessions have also been organised at the HWCs in the period since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Testing and treatment for COVID-19 will be free of cost for Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries at private laboratories and empanelled hospitals. Hospitals empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) can use their authorised testing facilities or tie up with an authorised testing facility.
Ayushman Bharat is the world's largest health insurance scheme and was launched by the Narendra Modi government in 2018. PM Modi in May said that the number of people who have benefited from the scheme crossed the one crore-mark. The scheme aims to cover more than 500 million beneficiaries and provide coverage of Rs 500,000 per family per year.