Extension of Ayushman Bharat Scheme to ASHA & Anganwadi Workers in Budget 2024-25: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Interim Budget 2024-25 at Parliament on February 1, following the commencement of the Budget Session. In her Budget speech, she highlighted the significant increase in investment for capital expenditure, reaching a historic high of ₹11,11,111 crore. This move was praised by Prime Minister Modi, who emphasized that it would create numerous job opportunities for the youth and contribute to India’s overall economic growth. PM Modi also acknowledged the budget’s focus on the aspirations of a young India, noting the allocation of ₹1 Lakh Crore for research and innovation. Additionally, Sitharaman announced the extension of healthcare coverage under the Ayushman Bharat scheme to all ASHA and Anganwadi workers. This budget reflects the government’s commitment to addressing the needs and aspirations of the nation.
The government has recently declared that the healthcare coverage provided by Ayushman Bharat will now be extended to include all ASHA and anganwadi workers. Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri-Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) is a globally renowned health insurance scheme that is publicly funded and offers coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. As of December 27 last year, the scheme had already covered 55 crore individuals from 12 crore families. During the presentation of the interim Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized the government’s commitment to adequately and promptly financing MSMEs. In addition, the health cover provided by Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana will now be extended to all Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and anganwadi workers and helpers, as announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the interim Union Budget for 2024-25.
Ayushman Bharat Extended in Budget 2024
While a comprehensive budget for 2024-25 will be announced after the formation of the new government following the Lok Sabha elections later this year, the budget allocation for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has increased from ₹89,155 crore in 2023-24 to ₹90,658.63 crore. Similarly, the Ayush Ministry has also witnessed a hike in budget allocation from ₹3,647.50 crore to ₹3,712.49 crore. The Minister further highlighted that India will be implementing the services of the newly designed U-WIN platform for managing immunization and intensifying efforts of Mission Indradhanush in the health sector.
The Minister emphasized the urgent implementation of this initiative nationwide during her lengthy speech. In addition, there are significant advancements in the sector, such as utilizing existing hospital infrastructure across various departments to provide medical seats to students. Furthermore, the government is promoting HPV vaccination for girls aged 9 to 14 years to prevent cervical cancer.
Another notable proposal is the consolidation of various schemes for maternal and child care into a comprehensive program to enhance synergy. As part of the Skill India Mission, the youth are being trained in prestigious institutes, including the newly constructed All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The Minister acknowledged the aspirations of many young individuals to become doctors and serve the people by improving healthcare services. To fulfill this ambition, the government plans to establish more medical colleges by utilizing the existing hospital infrastructure. A committee will be formed to examine the relevant issues and provide recommendations.
Furthermore, the Minister highlighted the increasing geopolitical challenges in global affairs, including wars and conflicts. The concept of globalization is being redefined with reshoring, friend-shoring, disruption, and fragmentation of supply chains, and competition for critical minerals and technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the emergence of a new world order. The budget also announced the expedited upgradation of Anganwadi centers under the ‘Saksham Anganwadi initiative and the implementation of Poshan 2.0 to enhance nutrition delivery, early childhood care, and development.
Health Care Cover To Be Extended To All ASHA, Anganwadi Workers
In terms of budget allocation, the sectors that received increased funds in the 2023-24 budget were Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, CGHS pensioners, and the National AIDS and STD program. However, there was a decrease in the allocation for the development of nursing services compared to previous years.
The ‘strategy for Amrit Kaal’ was recently outlined by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The government has implemented economic policies that aim to foster and sustain growth, promote inclusive and sustainable development, enhance productivity, create opportunities for all, empower individuals by improving their capabilities, and generate resources for investments and fulfilling aspirations. Sitharaman emphasized the rapid construction of various types of infrastructure, including digital, social, and physical. She also highlighted the significant empowerment of women through the distribution of 30 crore Mudra Yojana loans.
girls and women constitute 43 percent of enrollment in STEM courses
Furthermore, she pointed out that around 70 percent of houses in rural areas, under the PM Awas Yojana, are given to women as either single or joint owners. The Finance Minister also highlighted the progress made in empowering women, such as a 28 percent increase in female enrollment in higher education over the past decade. Notably, girls and women constitute 43 percent of enrollment in STEM courses, which is a commendable figure on a global scale. Measures like criminalizing triple talaq, reserving one-third of seats for women in Parliament and state assemblies, and allocating over 70 percent of houses under the PM Awas Yojana to women have not only enhanced their dignity but also increased their participation in the workforce.