Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy said on Monday that the state effectively handled Covid-19 pandemic with the lowest mortality rate in the country despite the handicap of lacking strong tertiary care. Speaking at a panel discussion on 'future-proofing health system' during World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting at Davos, he said the state focused on tracing, testing and treating. He said the state conducted 42 rounds of house to house survey over the last two years which helped the state to keep mortality rate at 0.63 per cent against the national average of more than one per cent. "Within the limits we had, we did all we could do. We were more focused on tracing, testing and treating. We were short on tertiary care. We were a newly formed state. We did not have tier-I cities like Hyderabad, Chennai or Bangalore where private investment is huge in super-specialty hospitals," he said.
"As we had that handicap, we wanted to get into it at an early stage. We conducted 44 rounds of house to house surveys. We had a robust system in place with a village secretariat, and a volunteer system for every 50 houses. We have 42,000 ASHA workers dealing with health issues. This was the primary reason why we could cut the mortality rate," said Jagan Mohan Reddy. Stating that this was an unprecedented situation, the chief minister said it was an eye-opener for all. "The entire healthcare system has to be formidable, if something like this to recur," he said. Jagan Mohan Reddy said the governments should be focusing on preventive and curative care to improve healthcare availability, accessibility and affordability. The chief minister told the panel that his government is working towards this end by focusing on primary healthcare taking every village as a unit with a village clinic. Doctors at primary health centres will visit every village and become family doctors. Jagan Reddy said despite the fund constraints, his government planned to spend Rs 16,000 crore over next three years to strengthen the healthcare sector.
He said steps were being taken to improve the healthcare delivery at district, area and teaching hospitals. He pointed out that the state has 11 medical colleges and his government was working to open 16 new medical colleges. All these colleges will have teaching hospitals attached to them and thus we want to strengthen the tertiary care. Jagan Reddy also mentioned the YSR Aarogyasri Scheme. During the last three years 25 lakh people were treated free of cost in the state. He pointed out that unlike the Central government's scheme Ayushman Bharat, which provides insurance coverage for 1,000 procedures, YSR Aarogyasri Scheme covers 2,446 procedures. "We have distributed YSR Aarogyasri cards to 1.44 crore households out of a total 1.53 crore households in the state," he added.