New Year gift
The Union Government is set to roll out the ‘free diagnostics’ scheme in the New Year. The Health Ministry has written to all states asking them to start providing a basket of essential services for free to patients visiting public healthcare facilities. The diagnostic services offered under the scheme would include blood and urine tests for chronic diseases like diabetes, for tropical diseases like malaria and dengue, HIV tests, as well as essential imaging and radiology services like X-ray, CT scan and ultrasound. The move if implemented would be a big relief for common man who most of the times due to the exorbitant charges taken by the testing laboratories, mostly run by private enterprises and the financial compulsions, is unable to get the much needed medical care at a affordable cost. Rajasthan had introduced the system way back in 2013. Along with Union Government’s move to upgrade district hospitals across the country, particularly in those districts which do not have a medical college, is a welcome decision and a right step in the direction of providing affordable medical care to the needy. The move also makes health services uniform across the country. The status of health services is better in southern and western parts of the country as compared to north and east, and therefore there is a need to bring these areas also at par with other areas. There is also need to develop an integrated coordinated holistic approach and give equal priority to preventive aspects of disease besides the clinical aspects. There is concern over the shift in the disease spectrum over the last quarter of a century wherein non-communicable diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure have replaced the communicable diseases like tuberculosis which were more prevalent in the earlier years. The added challenge is that these communicable and metabolic diseases have started afflicting younger age groups with a risk of adversely affecting the youth energy and youth potential of the nation.