By Health In Five Writer
Union Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala launched AYUSHMAN SAHAKAR, a unique scheme to assist cooperatives play an important role in creation of healthcare infrastructure in the country formulated by the apex autonomous development finance institution under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC).
Rupala announced that NCDC would extend term loans to prospective cooperatives to the tune of Rs.10,000 Crore in the coming years. He said that the ongoing pandemic has brought into focus the requirement of creation of more facilities. NCDC’s scheme will be a step towards strengthening farmers welfare activities by the Central Government. Rupala said that AYUSHMAN SAHAKAR scheme would revolutionize the way healthcare delivery takes place in rural areas. He also gave a call to existing cooperatives take up healthcare services as an activity for farmers.
Sundeep Nayak, MD, NCDC added that there are about 52 hospitals across the country run by cooperatives. They have cumulative bed strength of more than 5,000. The NCDC fund would give a boost to provision of healthcare services by cooperatives.
NCDC’s scheme aligns itself with the focus of the National Health Policy, 2017, covering the health systems in all their dimensions- investments in health, organization of healthcare services, access to technologies, development of human resources, encouragement of medical pluralism, affordable health care to farmers etc. It has a comprehensive approach-hospitals, healthcare, medical education, nursing education, paramedical education, health insurance and holistic health systems such as AYUSH. Ayushman Sahakar scheme fund would also assist cooperative hospitals take up medical / Ayush education.
In line with National Digital Heath Mission launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 15th August, 2020, NCDC’s Ayushman Sahakar would bring transformation in rural areas. By virtue of their strong presence in rural areas, cooperatives utilizing the scheme would bring revolution in comprehensive health care services.
Any Cooperative Society with suitable provision in its byelaws to undertake healthcare related activities would be able to access the NCDC fund. NCDC assistance will flow either through the State Governments/ UT Administrations or directly to the eligible cooperatives. Subsidy/ grant from other sources can be dovetailed.
The scheme also provides working capital and margin money to meet operational requirements. The scheme provides interest subvention of one percent to women majority cooperatives.
NCDC was set up under an Act of Parliament in 1963 for promotion and development of cooperatives. Since 1963, it has extended around Rs.1.60 lakh crore as loans to cooperatives.