The WHO India Country Cooperation Strategy 2019-2023 has identified accelerating the progress of the Ayushman Bharat programme as the top strategic priority.
The strategy focuses on providing equitable access at all aspects of health service delivery, from the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat health sector reforms aimed at expanding access to quality primary health care services.
The strategy document includes providing financial protection for those requiring hospital care, eliminating neglected tropical diseases, controlling vaccine-preventable and vector-borne diseases, and ensuring digital health interventions are appropriately used to deliver health care.
The Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS) provides a strategic roadmap for WHO to work with the central government towards achieving its health sector goals, in improving the health of its population and bringing in transformative changes in the health sector.
The CCS covers the period 2019-23. It notes that significant improvements in health have been achieved in the past two decades – including sharp reductions in child and maternal mortality, the elimination of several infectious diseases (polio, maternal and neonatal tetanus, yaws), a dramatic decline in HIV/AIDS incidence, and a doubling of the percentage of births taking place in health facilities in 10 years.
The government has set a series of ambitious goals in its National Health Policy 2017, such as achieving universal health coverage, with a focus on poor and vulnerable populations, and doubling public spending on health.
Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India, said: “The implementation of this CCS will build on the remarkable successes in public health that India has demonstrated to the world. It’s a great opportunity to showcase India as a model to the world in initiatives such as digital health, access to quality medicines and medical products, comprehensive hepatitis control programme and Ayushman Bharat.”
According to the WHO document, the CCS also expands its support in certain areas to meet new or growing health issues, such as air pollution, increasing suicide rates, and the challenge of making universal health coverage (UHC) a reality.