Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan today appealed CM Naveen to implement centre's universal healthcare coverage scheme Ayushman Bharat in Odisha so that not a single person is deprived of quality healthcare.

On the sidelines of a programme in AIIMS Bhubaneswar, where he unveiled a statue of former PM of India, late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Harsh Vardhan urged CM Naveen to implement Ayushman Bharat in the state so that the beneficiaries can avail the benefits all across India.

Harsh Vardhan said, "There are 20,000 hospitals in India empanelled to provide free healthcare to the needy through Ayusman Bharat. A patient from Odisha can avail treatment in any of those hospitals across India if the state government implements Ayushman Bharat in the state."

"We are in a process of upgrading 157 District Headquarters Hospitals (DHH) across India into medical colleges. Seventy five aspirational districts in the country have been considered for medical colleges from which 49 are already sanctioned and they will be operational within 4 to 5 years."

"Six medical colleges were already sanctioned in Odisha and the state government has applied for two more, which also will get sanctioned after due scrutiny."

Union Petroleum Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, who was also present at the event, reiterated Harsh Vardhan's request to implement Ayushman Bharat in Odisha. He said, "PM Modi has also urged other states including Odisha many times in the past to implement it. Poor and needy people of Odisha should get access to better healthcare."

Meanwhile, Ruling-BJD's Rajya Sabha Member, Amar Patnaik said, "Odisha implemented its own Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) much before Ayushman Bharat. We are in fact scrutinizing the proposal of merging BSKY with Ayushman Bharat. They both are quite different in nature, so it would take some time."