Union Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala on Monday launched a new scheme, Ayushman Sahakar, under which the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) would extend term loans of Rs 10,000 crore to cooperatives for creating healthcare infrastructure in rural India. There are about 52 hospitals across the country run by cooperatives. They have cumulative bed strength of more than 5,000. The NCDC fund would give a boost to provision of healthcare services by cooperatives, NCDC Managing Director Sundeep Nayak said.
In a statement, the government said any cooperative society with suitable provision in its byelaws to undertake healthcare related activities would be able to access the NCDC fund. The NCDC assistance will flow either through the state governments or directly to the eligible cooperatives. Subsidy/ grant from other sources can be dovetailed. After the virtual launch, the minister said, “The ongoing pandemic has brought into focus the requirement of creation of more facilities. The NCDC’s scheme will be a step towards strengthening farmers welfare activities by the central government." The NCDC would extend term loans of Rs 10,000 crore to prospective in the coming years under the scheme, which would revolutionize the way healthcare delivery takes place in rural areas, an official statement quoted the Minister.
Rupala also gave a call to existing cooperatives to take up healthcare services as an activity for farmers. In the statement, the government said the NCDC’s Ayushman Sahakar which is in line with National Digital Health Mission would bring transformation in rural areas. “their strong presence in rural areas, cooperatives utilizing the scheme would bring revolution in comprehensive health care services," it said. That apart, the NCDC’s scheme aligns itself with the focus of the National Health Policy, 2017, covering the health systems in all their dimensions - investments in health, organization of healthcare services, access to technologies, affordable health care to farmers, among others.
It has a comprehensive approach-hospitals, healthcare, medical education, nursing education, paramedical education, health insurance and holistic health systems such as AYUSH, it said. The Ayushman Sahakar specifically covers establishment, modernization, expansion, repairs, renovation of hospitals and healthcare and education infrastructure. It would also assist cooperative hospitals take up medical and Ayush education. The scheme also provides working capital and margin money to meet operational requirements. The scheme provides interest subvention of 1 per cent to women majority cooperatives, the statement added.
NCDC was set up under an Act of Parliament in 1963 for promotion and development of cooperatives. Since 1963, it has extended around Rs 1.60 lakh crore as loans to cooperatives.