Andhra Pradesh CM launches WHO report on the state’s free diagnostics scheme

A World Health Organization report, ‘Evaluation of Free Diagnostics Scheme in Andhra Pradesh,’ was launched by Mr Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 4 April 2018 in New Delhi.

Mr Naidu thanked WHO for conducting a rigorous evaluation of the scheme. “The savings of Rs 228 crores on diagnostic tests during January 2016 - June 2017 were significant. The NITI Aayog, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) and WHO should have periodic meetings to guide the Government of Andhra Pradesh for building a healthcare model par excellence in the state,” he added.

Dr Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog praised the initiatives undertaken by the state government. Also, the Andhra Pradesh government signed two MOUs with NITI Aayog and MoHFW.

“Making health technology including diagnostics accessible and affordable is a key WHO priority, in India and globally. The challenge is to ensure that access to high-quality affordable health products becomes a reality and meets the needs of the vast majority,” Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India.

Substantial investments in the National Health Mission (NHM) have resulted in improved access and coverage. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, under the aegis of NHM, launched the Free Diagnostics Scheme in July 2015 in order to reduce direct costs and out-of- pocket expenditure. Under this initiative, NHM supports state governments in providing essential diagnostics at their public health facilities, free of cost.

Andhra Pradesh was the first state to undertake a state-wide rollout of both laboratory and radiology services using a hybrid model. Free essential laboratory investigations to all patients visiting public health facilities were launched under the ‘NTR Vaidya Pariksha’ scheme in January 2016, leveraging public private partnerships. The following year, in 2017, WHO evaluated the ‘NTR Vaidya Pariksha’ scheme. The evaluation report highlights the achievements of the scheme, suggests areas of improvement and it also captures key learnings for other Indian states aiming to implement similar initiatives.

Amongst the dignitaries present at the event were senior officials from MoHFW; NITI Aayog; Dr Jitender Sharma, Advisor to the Chief Minister; Ms Poonam Malakondiah, Principal Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh, and WHO representatives.