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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) had started showing good results and had helped bring down both maternal and infant mortality rates. 'We had launched the National Rural Health Mission in 2005. (It) has started showing good results. Both maternal and infant mortality rates have come down sharply,' he said in his Independence Day speech. He said: 'A much larger proportion of children are now born in hospitals. There has also been a large increase in the proportion of children being inoculated.'
The NRHM is the government's flagship programme for improving healthcare delivery across rural India. 'We have implemented the health mission in urban areas also. This will result in both expansion and improvement of health services in such areas,' the prime minister said. He said the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (National Health Insurance Scheme), which provides free in-patient treatment in hospitals to 'our poor brothers and sisters', now covers about 3.5 crore families. (Read: What ails India's healthcare system)
What is the NRHM?
The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is an ambitious plan to improve health delivery in rural India where access to even the most basic services is very low. The scheme has been called by some economists 'the most ambitious rural health initiative ever' and takes a more practical approach by training local residents in primary healthcare.
Last year's (2012-13) budget increased allocation to two of the biggest projects to alleviate the healthcare woes of the poor the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) which literally means the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The NRHM was a rural health initiative started in 2005, to alleviate the healthcare woes of rural India. The way it works is the government picked out 264 backwards districts to improve healthcare services which they would seek to improve the healthcare facilities in these places with a more pragmatic approach. This involved training locals as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and various indicators suggest that it has worked to a certain extent. Last year, the NRHM was allocated Rs 20,822 crore (increased from Rs 18,115 crore in 2011). Like the NRHM, the RSBY is mainly for the poor who can't afford health insurance. It is a smart-card based insurance scheme for every Below-Poverty Line (BPL) family which allows them to get inpatient treatment up to Rs 30,000 per year. The scheme will cover the main bread earner, their spouse and three dependents. In 2012, the RSBY was allocated Rs 1097.6 crore.
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