In an interview to Rajya Sabha TV, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Jagat Prakash Nadda has said that when the BJP talks about Congress-mukt Bharat, it doesn’t mean the political party, but the Congress culture which has been identified with deep corruption. Nadda reiterated that it is because of these qualities that people from within the Congress are quitting the party and joining the BJP.
Talking at length about the health reforms, the union minister emphasised that he was looking at an increased health spending to about 2.5 percent of the GDP. He said that unlike the BJP government, the earlier governments never created the capacity to spend. Nadda went on to say that the budget was never a problem, and what lacked was an absence of a focussed programme.
Nadda also said that those talking about the isolation of Muslim minorities, are destroying the secular fabric of the nation because BJP believes in the ‘sabka sath sabka vikas’ motto.
Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:
New health policy talks about strategic purchasing. What does it mean and how will you synergise the private sector with the public sector?
The old policy was centered on regulation and disease management. The new policy brings preventive care and universal health care. We will include private health care as the capacity of the public sector cannot reach the optimum level without the participation of the private sector. We will fill all the gaps because we do not want the patients to suffer.
70 percent of health needs are taken care of by the private sector, but what about accreditation and quality control?
When we engage a private organisation it has to be accredited. In strategic purchasing we see to it they are NABH and NABL accredited. We have come out with a model code bill – The Indian Clinical Act. Health is state subject. States will have to adopt it. Maximum states adopt it and implement it. There is an incentive which says if you accredit, they will get incentives. Pradhan Mantri Dialysis Yojna is one example.
Experts say new health policy points to an over dependence on the private sector and the private health care providers will end up benefiting more?
This is not correct. Every section is appreciating the new policy. In universal health care we are providing free drugs and diagnostic facility at the PHC-level and district-level. 37 medicines at the sub centre level will be made available. We have not allowed our people to depend on the private sector. We will engage private sector to fill the gaps.
What about the expansion of insurance?
We are moving towards assurance. Right from that level we will take care. For pregnant mothers we will take care of post-natal and pre-natal health care. And also immunisation and supplementation. We have adopted a life cycle. Universal screening will be done that includes BP, diabetes, hyper-tension, breast and cervix cancer. We will ensure no delays, and focus on availability free of cost
When can we become Thailand as far as universal health care is concerned?
I don’t like comparing India with Thailand. India is a democratic county. Don’t compare it with communist country. We take care of 1.25 billion people. We have to see things from our perspective. We have a robust health system. We are polio free. India has reached with health services to the remotest corners. We are yaws free. We are maternal tetanus free. We have got good indicators; the most positive is the infant mortality rate. Also, the under-five mortality rate is declining faster.
New health policy talks about the increased spending in health about 2 percent of the GDP. With respect to the population, don’t you think that amount is insufficient?
These are wrong notions that have developed. I was told health budget is slashed. We have to increase the capacity to spend. Funds have never been a problem. I can give you a list that funds to the tune of 500 crore has not been spent. We have 900 crore for Pradhan Mantri Dialysis Yojna. Budget is not a problem. Devolution of financial powers to the state will happen in phased manner, but the capacity to spend also has to be created. Reality is that we have increased immunization by 7 percent. One lakh dialysis patients are being treated free of cost. Free drugs and diagnostics.
Where will the funds come from?
Health agenda is the topmost agenda. Finance ministry says- give us the program we will give you the funds. 6 new AIIMS have come up.
Strategic purchasing, is there a separate organisation which will do this buying?
We don’t want to increase institutions. National health mission can take care of strategic purchasing. It’s a tendering process. Private sector will enter. Money will be given and fund will never be a problem. We will proceed with the process under the national health mission.
Coming to the larger politics of BJP, what is the larger game plan of 2019?
Our PM never looks at politics in terms of elections….we look at how we an make India stronger – Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. We want an empowered India.
Don’t you think BJP hype is more of propaganda?
In the past people had written off the BJP after the Delhi loss. We have support because of honesty and integrity under the leadership of Modi ji. The poor are with us. In coming times, this faith will increase more and more. People in the last line will also support BJP.
Amit Shah says he will make India Congress-mukt Bharat. Is the new strategy to breach the fortress of other parties fair on the part of BJP?
Congress-mukt Bharat is not about mukti from the political party. Congress is a culture, we have to get rid of it. It had become a synonym for corruption, indecisiveness, talking about poor, working for rich. People are getting suffocated within the Congress. That’s why Congress men are leaving the party and joining BJP.
Most of the new chief ministers have had a strong backing from RSS. Is BJP stronger or RSS, and is this quality a pre requisite to become a chief minister of a BJP-ruled state?
All chief ministers are BJP chief ministers. RSS is our ideological support. Our course of action is decided by BJP. It is the individual choices. Backing from RSS can be an added advantage.
Secularists say RSS is emboldened to carry on its Hindutva agenda; does it isolate minorities like Muslims?
Those people who talk like this are destroying the secular fabric of this country. We believe in sabka sath sabka vikas.
What about political representation of Muslims?
We have top winning candidates. We fight to win elections.
Are we looking at Mr Nadda as the prospective chief minister of Himachal Pradesh?
You will have a BJP chief minbister. My health work keeps me busy. I am not a frontrunner though I am a srprint runner.
(You can watch the entire interview at 10 pm tonight and 1 pm and 5.30 pm on Thursday, only on Rajya Sabha TV)