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Navigating Modi 3.0: Key Challenges For Nadda as Health and Chemicals Minister

June 11,2024

Mumbai: As the new health minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s union council of ministers, Jagat Prakash Narayan Lal Nadda will have a bunch of challenges to handle. His top priority will be to accelerate India’s universal health coverage, a grand vision of assured comprehensive primary and tertiary care that his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), espoused from the time it was voted to power since 2014.

The idea of Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission (PMSSY) – took off well but the sheer scale of the scheme of reaching healthcare to over 50 crore Indians, faced hurdles of adoption in the private sector. The biggest issues revolved around huge delays in clearing payments to the hospitals.

As the health minister in his previous stint in 2014, where he served the full five-year term, Nadda was among the key architects for the universal health coverage plan. While the scheme has now matured and benefited millions of citizens, the next promised step to use digital tools to expand and create medical health records for millions of Indians is being watched closely.

Among the other key areas that will be closely watched is the progress made in tuberculosis control. The government has set its sights on the eradication of TB by 2025, and with just a year to go, Nadda will have to work on war footing to reach that goal.

India is also seeing an unprecedented scale of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiac complications. Clearly, the current programs are falling short in controlling the surge of new cases.

Nadda’s track record is seen by the industry and health experts as mostly positive.

But the next five years will be crucial in many ways. India’s healthcare and nutrition parameters are not the least satisfactory and, in a few segments, even trails that of neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Those will require big changes from the policy side. The recent controversies revolved around the poor dietary standards followed in India.

Nadda’s job will be tougher as he is given the additional charge of the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers. This is probably an important tactical step by the government. For long, conflicts have surfaced on the turf wars between the two ministries.

While the department of pharmaceuticals is under the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers, the regulations that govern the industry are under the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI), which is part of the health ministry. With long delays on important policy issues, the industry had called for a single authority that handles the two sides. Under Nadda, that may become a reality.

Source: Healthworld

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