Can Ayushman Bharat help tackle cancer burden in India

As of now, over 4.07 lakh cancer cases have been treated under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) scheme. Taking this massive number into consideration, the government further wants to add specialised screening facilities for cancer in the health and wellness centres functioning under the plan.

According to the data collected by the NHA, the number of cases treated under the medical oncology – 3, 59,327, pediatric oncology – 17,421, radiation oncology – 76,444, and surgical oncology – 16,941. Oncology is one of the majorly used specialties under the PMJAY scheme.

However, the number of cases treated are only a fraction. This is because doctors lack expert knowledge and cancer-care services. Since HWCs screen major cancer cases and that too often, it should also be able to treat the same number of cases at an early stage.

The health and family welfare ministry of India is also looking for ways to make high-quality diagnostic services from certified manufacturers available to the beneficiaries of the PMJAY scheme. This is said to be done under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

NHA data shows that over 9% of the claims submitted are for oncology – wherein 34% of all the tertiary claims submitted until July 2019 since the launch of the scheme were from across 26 states and union territories. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu generated 60% of the claims in the said period.

Here, women comprise a higher number of claims submission (all age categories) as compared to the men. The highest claim is recorded among the age range of 45 to 50 years. Some of the common cancer types diagnosed in women include Ovary, Breast, Cervix, and Radical Hysterectomy. Men, on the other hand, claims for cancer types such as Terminally Ill Palliative, Colon Rectum, Head and Neck cancers.

As a matter of fact, an estimated 2.25 million people in India are affected by cancer (data as of March 2018, National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research). On the other hand, 9.81% of men and 9.42% of women tend to have a risk of developing cancer before the age of 75 years.

The PMJAY scheme is a fully government-financed health insurance scheme for the poor and vulnerable families in India. The plan is mainly for people with little to no access to medical facilities. PMJAY scheme treats cases of various diseases, including cancer, and aims to decrease the expenses for hospitalisation and treatment.

Under this scheme, all the entitled families across the country can utilise the quality health facilities as and when needed without having to face financial hardship. Once you know you are eligible for the program, you can then move on to the PMJAY registration and application process.

With the PMJAY scheme, we will bridge the gaps to enhance quality cancer treatment that is made available to everyone across the country.