The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is is health scheme introduced by the Indian Government as a way to provide India's rural population access to free health care and quality medical services. It is available to all permanent residents of declared rural areas.
In 2022, it was reported that 64.13% of the Indian population resides in rural areas. As a way to ensure residents of these areas get access to proper healthcare facilities and advanced infrastructure, the Indian government launched the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
First introduced in 2005 by the then Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh, this scheme primarily focuses on providing healthcare benefits to low-income households in rural areas.
Read on to learn more about this scheme, its objectives, main features, benefits, and eligibility criteria.
What is the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)?
The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is a government-backed health scheme launched in 2005 to offer rural residents free and affordable medical services by establishing functional and decentralised health facilities in declared rural areas.
It especially seeks to reduce Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) and Infant Mortality (IMR) Rates within rural areas and communities by ensuring residents access to quality healthcare services and delivery, free medication and diagnostic services.
They focus on five main approaches to ensure the efficient delivery of their services:
The health system should be fully functional and accountable to the community.
Innovation in human resource management
Monitoring progress against standards
Improvements in the management framework
Objectives of the National Rural Health Mission
To promote healthy lifestyles and access to functional and integrated, comprehensive primary health care.
To reduce Infant and maternal mortality rates during live births by 30/1000 and 100/100,000, respectively.
Prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases - including locally endemic diseases. E.g. To reduce Malaria and Dengue Mortality by 50%, leprosy rate to less than 1% and have an 85% cure rate for Tuberculosis.
Universal access to public services for sanitation and hygiene, food and nutrition, and universal access to public health care services with particular attention given to services addressing women's and children's health and universal immunisation.
Population stabilisation, gender and demographic balance.
Revitalise local health traditions and mainstream AYUSH.
Benefits of the National Rural Health Mission
Maternal and infant mortality have reduced significantly due to the efforts of this mission. There is now free healthcare for the prenatal and postnatal care of pregnant women in rural areas.
Residents of rural areas can now receive high-quality health benefits and facilities from the scheme, where the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) manage the health facilities.
Affordable treatments for infectious and non-communicable diseases, especially for locally endemic diseases like malaria and dengue.
More awareness among rural residents as they now prioritise treating diseases instantly, and there has also been a significant decrease in the rate of tobacco users.
Funds and budgetary allocations from the Indian Government have helped to set up more health facilities and renovate pre-existing ones with better services and equipment.
All initiatives and partnerships forged under NRHM, like ASHA, Rogi Kalyan Samiti, Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committee (VHSNC), Janani Suraksha Yojana, Healthcare service delivery, etc., have given higher employment opportunities.
- More than 9.15 lakh Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers are in place nationwide to facilitate, mobilise and provide community-level care in each village.
Main Features of the National Rural Health Mission
Healthcare Service Delivery
The scheme exists to fill gaps in human resources in the healthcare sector by providing 2.23 lakhs additional health human resources to states, including:
10,377 General Duty Medical Officers (GDMOs),
33,604 Paramedics (Allied Health Professionals),
79,579 Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs),
47,636 Staff Nurses,
271 Public Health Managers and
16,677 Programme Management staff, etc., on a contractual basis.
This program also works on multiskilling doctors at strategically located facilities identified by the States. For example, MBBS doctors are trained in Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC), Life Saving Anaesthesia Skills (LSAS) and Laparoscopic Surgery.
Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committee (VHSNC)
This committee aims to create awareness of nutritional issues and nutrition as an essential determinant of health. Its members include Panchayati Raj representatives, ASHA and other frontline workers whose role is to:
Carry out surveys on nutritional status
Act as a grievances redressal forum on health and nutrition issues,
Facilitate early detection of malnourished children
Identify locally available foodstuffs of high nutrient value and promote best practices in line with the local culture.
Supervise and maintain the Anganwadi Centre (AWC) in the village and ensure its work in improving the nutritional status of women and children.
Rogi Kalyan Samiti (Patient Welfare Committee)
This committee's members ensure that hospitals comply with minimal facility standards and guidelines to guarantee improved facilities for residents covered by the National Rural Health Mission.
The government primarily funds them to prevent a decline in patient welfare. They also ensure:
The optimal use of hospital land as per govt. guidelines.
The proper training of doctors and staff and accountability of public health providers to the community.
They gather the appropriate funds through local donations, outreach services, and establishing affiliations with private institutions to help regularly upgrade and modernise health services at health facilities.
The implementation of National Health Programmes at hospitals and other health institutions under their administrative jurisdiction.
Locally Trained And Recruited Medical Staff
This scheme has added over 1.88 lakh human resources, including multi-skilled doctors, GDMOs (General Duties Medical Officers), ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) and Staff Nurses.
Moreover, local preference for recruited and trained staff has been maintained wherever possible when hiring staff and other human resources for rural healthcare facilities under this scheme.
The National Rural Health Mission has set up fixed guidelines and standards of public health at block levels (100 villages). This means the resident will get ensured healthcare services at primary health centre levels, sub-health centre level and community health (ASHA) centre levels.
The guidelines and health service guarantees stated under these three levels will act as minimum health standards across all National Rural Health Mission facilities.
Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram
This program seeks to lower maternal mortality while encouraging women to use public facilities for their deliveries. It provides expectant mothers enrolled under the NRHM scheme financial aid.
As a result, women can claim free deliveries, including those requiring a caesarean section under the National Rural Health Mission. They also receive food, blood supply, transportation, and free medications and tests.
Accessible Healthcare System
Locally accessible, high-quality health services are one of the key features available under the NRHM. These services are readily available in most rural areas in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, the North Eastern States, and the Empowered Action Group (EAG) States.
Who is Eligible for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)?
Any permanent resident of declared rural areas can enrol in this scheme to claim its benefits.
It serves the eight socio-economically backward states, including Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. It also focuses on the rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and the North Eastern States.
How Can I Apply for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)
There is no actual method for applying to the National Rural Health Mission. You can claim this scheme's benefits if you are a permanent resident of a declared rural area and your village offers NRHM services and facilities.
If the scheme is newly introduced in your area, the assigned worker will reach door-to-door. If you need any specific assistance, contact the assigned ASHA worker in your village. They can be found at the nearest Anganwadi centre.
The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is a government-aided health scheme specifically for permanent residents of declared rural areas in India. n aims to bring free and affordable healthcare facilities and services to socio-economically challenged states.
There is no actual application process for this scheme. If you permanently reside in a declared rural area that offers NHRM services, you are free to use them.
If you happen to be a permanent resident of a rural area that is yet to implement NRHM services, getting a term life insurance policy in the meantime can help ensure that your family stays financially secure in your absence.