HC asks Centre, Delhi govt to respond to plea to include ayurveda, yoga in Ayushman Bharat

The Delhi High Court Thursday sought the response of the Centre and Delhi government on a plea seeking inclusion of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy in Ayushman Bharat, the national public health insurance scheme.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela issued notices to the union ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Ayush, Finance and Home Affairs besides the Delhi government and asked them to file their counter affidavits within eight weeks.

The bench listed the matter for further hearing on January 29.

The petition sought inclusion of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy in the National Health Protection Mission, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), also known as Ayushman Bharat, to secure the citizens’ right to health.

Ayushman Bharat, which was launched in 2018, has two main components PM-JAY and the Health and Wellness Centres.

Under PM-JAY, health insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family per year is provided to over 12 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 55 crore beneficiaries), according to the National Health Authority website.

The petitioner, advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, said the central government, in order to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) for economically weaker sections (EWS) and below poverty line (BPL) people, launched a major scheme, Ayushman Bharat, in line with the National Health Policy-2017 but Indian systems — ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy are not covered under it.

“PM-JAY, that is, Ayushman Bharat predominantly covers and is limited to allopathic hospitals and dispensaries, while India boasts various indigenous medical systems, including ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, siddha, unani, homeopathy, which are rooted in India’s rich traditions and are highly effective in addressing the healthcare needs of the present time,” the petition said.

It said India is rich in various great traditions of sages and has clear evidence of this in various available scriptures, vedas, puranas and Upanishads.

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“Unfortunately, due to various policies created by foreign rulers and individuals with a colonial mindset, our cultural, intellectual knowledge and scientific heritage have been systematically eroded. Along with this, these foreigners, motivated by a profit-oriented approach, have thoughtfully implemented many laws and schemes during the time of our country’s independence that have slowly undermined our rich heritage and history,” the plea said.

It sought the scheme to be implemented in every state so a significant portion of the country’s population is able to avail itself of affordable healthcare benefits and wellness in various serious diseases, without any harm and at low rates, and provide employment to thousands of people in the field of ayurveda.

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