JHARKHAND: Several days ago, Shanti Murmu of Kujram village in Khunti was informed by a volunteer, who visited her village and explained in detail through short films on the LED screen mounted on his bike that she can avail free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. She was quite surprised to learn this.
With the help of motorcycle-mounted TV units called E-AVAS (Ekal Audio-Visual Awareness System), the Ghar-Ghar Ayushman project has been able to inform the public about the benefits of the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) and the steps involved in creating Ayushman cards for each villager.
Notably, the initiative was introduced in Jharkhand for the first time as a prototype run to connect with those residing in the most distant areas where it is impossible to travel by car. The concept is described to people using audio-visual materials, and any questions are answered right away by the person operating the bike. Only 10 bikes have raised awareness in 1,100 communities in just 30 days, and they do so at a low cost.
It’s interesting to note that the bike it’s being transported on generates the power needed to run the LED screen and small music system.
Shanti Devi said, “We had no information about the Ayushman Yojana, but someone came here with a TV on his bike and explained it to us in detail through short films. He also answered our questions about how to get the card and what paperwork is needed for it. She continued, “Now, the entire community is eager to get him a card so he can also get free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh.” They already had an Ayushman card, but Kavita Devi of Behatu village in West Singhbhum said they were unaware of its benefits or how to use it.
“We didn’t realise we could get treatment up to Rs 5 lakh with this card till one day a person came on a bike with an LED TV along with him and told about the scheme and the benefits we can access through it,” said Kavita Devi. Everyone in the hamlet is now working to earn the card so they may receive free care as needed, she added.
The E-AVAS, according to local health workers in isolated communities, has really assisted in organising residents, who have now begun making attempts to receive their Ayushman cards. According to a Sahiya (health worker) named Sapani Terom at Hembrom village in Khunti, “We tried to make them understand that they can avail treatment up to Rs 5 lakh through the card, but they never paid heed to us. But after E-AVAS people came to the village and explained everything to them in detail, they were fully convinced about the scheme and made all efforts to get benefits of the free treatment scheme."
Ayushman Bharat Yojana has so far been introduced to nearly 1.82 lakh people through films, and 45,000 people have asked questions about it.
Additionally, the process of obtaining an Ayushman Card has begun for several people in the districts of Khunti, West Singhbhum, and Dumka during the campaign. To make sure that every recipient of AB PM-JAY receives them, constant efforts are being made through IEC (information, education, and communications) programmes.
Arun Prakash, director of Shruti Visual Information Private Limited, which is overseeing the initiative in Jharkhand, said that the utilisation of audio-visual content carried on a motorcycle to reach out to inhospitable terrains was both unique and strategically sound.
“Since it is impossible to travel to far-off places, the project has been moved to bicycles because it is simple to get there on a bike, he said.
The benefits of the programme and how Ayushman Cards are made are explained to the people by one person travelling to interior and remote villages on a motorcycle equipped with a TV unit. Not only are they informed about the plan, but any questions that are expressed by those in attendance are also answered, he added.
“Currently, we have 10 such TV-mounted bikes that, on average, can travel specified routes through at least four villages every day, raising awareness among 500 people daily, according to Prakash. In just 30 days since the programme’s launch on December 20, 2022, more than 1.82 lakh people have been benefitted, Prakash said.
National Health Mission officials said that although the project was begun as a pilot run in Jharkhand, they are aiming to scale it up in other regions as well.