Ayushman Bharat -- the Central health scheme -- would be implemented in Delhi, the Arvind Kejriwal government has announced. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia made the announcement during the budget session of the assembly this afternoon, a day after Delhi announced a lockdown to slow down the coronavirus,
"The world is dealing with COVID-19. The government will provide whatever funds that will be required to deal with this disease," Mr Sisodia said in his budget speech.
The Ayushman Bharat scheme had been a key flashpoint between the Narendra Modi government and the Delhi government led by Mr Kejriwal. Like several opposition-ruled states, Delhi had not accepted the Central scheme, contending that its own mohalla (neighbourhood) clinic programme was better.
Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) -- is the flagship scheme of Central government that provides a cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. It has approximately 50 crore beneficiaries, who belong to the vulnerable economically weaker sections.
Mohalla clinics are primary health centres across Delhi, which provide the basic and essential healthcare.
The matter came up repeatedly ahead of the Delhi assembly election, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the AAP government of hoodwinking the people of Delhi for votes. But Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, which won another huge victory, said it was a sign of people's approval for its healthcare and education projects;
The Delhi government's U-turn on the matter today came amid the rapid spread of coronavirus and the concern over the hospitals being ill-equipped to handle the situation in case things take a turn for worse.
The shortage of ventilators is giving nightmares to authorities as the world faces a virus that attacks the lungs.
Last week, the government banned the export of all ventilators. The private sector has been trying to come up with a solution. Yesterday, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, said the conglomerate will immediately work on producing ventilators.