The Indian government has launched a free online health platform for citizens to access free healthcare services across the country.
The government has been working to make healthcare free for the poor for a number of years, especially after a government survey revealed that the average family’s healthcare expenses were over Rs 4,000 a year.
In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the government announced a scheme to encourage the poor to enroll in the country’s healthcare schemes, which would be made free of cost by 2022.
This was the first time a government had implemented such a scheme.
The platform, called ‘Nirbhaya’ (Life’s Hope), will help the poor in their daily lives, as well as provide them with the option to access healthcare services at no cost to them.
According to a statement by the government, the platform will allow citizens to search for the nearest health facility, receive a free consultation from a doctor or a nurse, and receive healthcare advice from experts at no extra cost.
“Nirbhaa will empower the poor with a seamless and cost-effective way to access quality healthcare services,” the statement said.
The service is expected to launch in the next two to three months.
“We are planning to make the platform free of any cost, as it is a necessary part of our efforts to make India’s healthcare free and accessible to the poor,” Dr. Praveen Bhushan, chairperson of the Indian Council of Medical Research, told The Hindu.
He said that the platform would allow the poor “to get the best care, with the lowest cost, and it will also help the Government of India in developing a free and easy healthcare system in the entire country.”
“There are many problems in India, including high healthcare costs, low enrolment rates, low access to health services, and lack of quality healthcare,” Bhushann added.
“But with Nirbhaya, the Government is working towards creating a truly free, inclusive, and secure healthcare system that is accessible to all citizens, irrespective of their socio-economic status.”
The platform is expected be launched in the first half of 2021.