Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that 42 lakh senior citizens voluntarily gave up their railway concession in the past nine months.
Pointing out that 1.25 crore families have already surrendered their gas subsidy since his request in 2015, the prime minister said that it’s an indication people are coming forward to contribute to nation-building amid an environment of honesty.
“(For railway concessions) I had not announced anything. But the railways on their form asked people if they would want to give up their senior citizen concessions... I am proud to say that in the past eight-nine months, 42 lakh elderly passengers have voluntarily given up subsidy,” Modi said.
He said he had requested doctors in the country to treat pregnant women free of cost at least once a month, following which thousands of medical practitioners came forward. “And 1.25 crore pregnant women have been treated free of cost so far,” he said.
The prime minister had called on doctor working in the private sector to provide free ante-natal services (ANC) on the 9th of every month on a voluntary basis to pregnant women, especially those living in under-served, semi-urban, poor and rural areas during one of his monthly radio addresses in 2016.
“People have this feeling that the tax we are paying, every single penny is being utilised for the purpose of development,” Modi said after laying the foundation stone of the National Centre for Ageing at AIIMS and inaugurating a super-speciality and an emergency block at Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi.
Modi said the vision of his government is not limited to providing modern treatment facilities such as hospitals and medicines and thus a national health policy with an aim to ensure low-cost treatment for every citizen and to eradicate the causes of diseases was introduced.
The government is building a health infrastructure and strengthening the existing ones across the country for a ‘New India’ having quality hospitals, more beds, better facilities and best doctors, Modi said.
He said health issues were a major cause of poverty.
“Our government has taken healthcare services beyond the boundaries of the health ministry and today the ministries of rural development, drinking water and sanitation, women and child development and Ayush have all got linked with the government’s vision to provide accessible and affordable health to all,” he said.
Modi talked about the two pillars of the Centre’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat, as part of which 1.5 lakh sub-centres that are being converted into health and wellness centres to provide screening for tuberculosis and leprosy, along with diabetes, hypertension, breast, oral and cervical cancers.
Also, he talked about the National Health Protection Scheme which aims to provide a cover of Rs 5 lakh per family annually to 10 crore vulnerable families.
Modi said these will highly benefit the poor living in villages and rural areas and more and more states are being linked to the project and private hospitals are being brought on board.
“This will be the world’s largest health assurance scheme,” he said.
Reiterating India’s commitment to eradicate TB by 2025, five years ahead of the global target, Modi said he has faith the healthcare sector of the country would meet the challenge.
In the past four years, the public healthcare sector has been given a new direction and the continuous policy interventions by the Union government have ensured that the poor and the middle-class do not have to wander around for better health services and spend unnecessarily on them.
Taking a dig on the previous dispensation, Modi said his government has initiated more AIIMS-like hospitals in the past four years than done in the past 70 years.
He said he can recall around 1,500 schemes announced in the past, including in the railway sector in the past 30-40 years but “when I asked they didn’t even exist in papers.”
The National Centre for Ageing will provide state-of-the-art clinical care to the elderly people and lay a key role in guiding research in geriatric medicine and related specialities.
The centre will have 200 general ward beds, which will include 20 medical ICU beds. It will be developed at a cost of Rs 330 crore and will be completed by February 2020.
The prime minister also inaugurated a 500-bed emergency block and 807-bed super-speciality block at Safdarjung Hospital.
He dedicated a 300-bed Power Grid Vishram Sadan at AIIMS and a “connection motorable tunnel” between AIIMS, Ansari Nagar and the trauma centre.
(With PTI inputs)