By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, August 31, 2018: Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Friday advised the Odisha government to implement the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme along with its own Biju Swastha Kalyan (BSK) programme for better health protection for the people.

Speaking at the inauguration of a Medical College at Balangir, 327 kilometre west from here in western parts, Nadda made his suggestion in the presence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik and state health minister Pratap Jena.

The Naveen Patnaik led government had earlier rejected the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme claiming that its own BSK programme was much better.

“I urge the chief minister to adopt the Ayushman Bharat scheme of the central government along with the state’s own programme. Both the Centre and the state should work together for protection of people’s health,” he said adding that the Centre has always supported the state government in strengthening its health system.

People covered under the central scheme would be able to get free health service even outside side their states, Nadda pointed out saying that if Odisha does not implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme, many who need the benefits most may be deprived of them.

He urged the Odisha government to implement the Deendayal AMRIT Scheme in all medical colleges in the state to enable patients get branded medicines at affordable prices, Nadda said.

The union minister said the health ministry is taking a leap towards providing accessible and affordable healthcare to the common man through the Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana which will provide assured universal healthcare to over 50 crore people from the vulnerable sections.

“The Ayushman Bharat scheme for a comprehensive primary care by health and wellness centres, and the National Health Protection Mission for financial protection to the poor for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation are the twin pillars envisioned to take our country on the path of universal health coverage,” Nadda said.

The Union health minister said new medical colleges are being established in Odisha in the district headquarter hospitals at Balasore, Baripada, Balangir, Koraput and Puri. Medical colleges under Bhadrak, Jajpur and Dhenkanal have also been announced.

He said at present there are 502 medical colleges in the country, out of them 118 new medical colleges – 54 government and 64 private – have been opened since 2014-15. Against 52,000 MBBS seats in 2013-14, there are now more than 70,000 under graduate seats for medical studies.

Inaugurating the much-awaited Bhima Bhoi Medical College and Hospital was inaugurated in Balangir town, chief minister said opening of the long-awaited medical college and hospital here has fulfilled the dream of the people of western Odisha and will go a long way in providing quality healthcare service in the area.

Residents of the town had to wait for nearly two decades for a medical college as the first such project was mooted way back in 1999. Since then foundation stone for a medical college had been laid on three different occasions – twice by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik – at Balangir.

The medical college and hospital has been constructed at a cost of Rs 300 crore, of which Rs 205 crore was given by the state government and the rest provided by the Centre, officials said.

Reiterating his government’s commitment to provide improved health service to the people, he said the state government is making a constant effort to improve healthcare and medical education in remote and tribal-dominated areas.

Noting that there were 321 MBBS seats in the state in 2000, he said the number of seats has increased to 950 after the opening of the medical colleges and hospitals in Koraput, Mayurbhanj and Balangir.

After the inauguration of the medical college and hospital in Balasore next month, Odisha will have a total 1050 MBBS seats, Patnaik said.

Admission in 100 seats in Balangir medical college, named after legendary poet Santha Kabi Bhima Bhoi, began from the current academic session.

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