Wednesday, the twenty-seventh of January, began like every other day at the National Health Authority (NHA) office in central Delhi. By 9AM, the 200-odd employees of the agency began filing into the premises, readying for another day of work. The NHA, which falls under the Indian health ministry, is tasked with running the world’s largest public health insurance scheme—the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
Even as the office began to buzz with activity, a phone call from the Prime Minister’s Office would soon change the mood. The contract of Indu Bhushan, the founding chief executive officer (CEO) of the NHA, would not be renewed once his three-year term ended on 31 January.
Change in Health
The Aadhaar angle to National Health Authority’s leadership shuffle
The change in leadership at NHA—from a seasoned health economist to a career bureaucrat with close ties to Aadhaar—indicates a shift in focus. India’s digital health ID mission may just be superseding Ayushman Bharat, the world’s largest public health insurance programme
Many believed NHA founding CEO Indu Bhushan would receive a contract extension at the end of his term. Three days before it expired, he was informed he was being replaced
In his place, RS Sharma, former TRAI Chairman and one of Aadhaar’s architects, has been chosen, seemingly to marry PM-JAY to National Digital Health Mission
Except, the former is a welfare scheme for the poor while the latter is a voluntary project cutting across classes. It is a marriage of unequals
The government believes Sharma's the man for the job. Already, Sharma helped pave the way for NDHM by pushing the linkage of Aadhaar and CoWIN. The health ministry even issued a notification, permitting the voluntary use of Aadhaar across health IT apps