May 17, 2020

India officially launches its US$1.6bn healthcare programme

healthcare services
Health Insurance
healthcare services
Health Insurance
Catherine Sturman
3 min
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has launched the country’s largest healthcare programme, which is set to provide essential healthcare coverage fo...

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has launched the country’s largest healthcare programme, which is set to provide essential healthcare coverage for up to 100mn families, totalling to over 500mn citizens.

Over 40% of India’s population fall below the poverty line (up to 63mn citizens), pricing them out of basic healthcare services. The country spends just 1.5% on its healthcare services, in comparison with countries such as the US and UK which remain much higher.

With many public services remaining understaffed and ill equipped, a private consultation can cost an individual or family over a thousand rupees (US$15). If a member therefore becomes ill, it can take years to pay off any potential bill for many citizens who work for less than US$2 per day.

Providing US$7,000 in insurance cover (500,000 lakh rupees) for each individual, over 400 districts have signed up to the scheme, costing 29 state governments up to US$1.6bn per annum, which will increase according to annual demand.

First announced in February and officially named Ayushman Bharat Yojna, the programme incorporates the transformation of up to 150,000 GP surgeries and community health facilities, so that they become world-class, government regulated “health and wellness centres,” which will be equipped with essential resources.

Secondly, the programme will aim to tackle the ongoing rise of private healthcare, with aims to offer higher quality services, tackle staff shortages and underfunding, with the additional aim to reduce overcrowding within each medical establishment.

Over 30 of the country’s 36 states have agreed to the programme, where investment in training and a new technological infrastructure will aim to transform the sector and enable healthcare professionals to provide world-class support to those in need. Private hospitals will also aim to support the scheme.

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However, Economist Venkat Narayana informed Arab News that the budget is still at risk of not supporting those in rural areas.

“My experience suggests that such a programme does not address the real health care needs of the people living in villages and smaller cities. The money that the government plans to spend on insurance could be spent in expanding and enriching the medical infrastructure across the country,” he says.

Noting that the programme also does not extend to primary healthcare, but focuses predominately on secondary and tertiary services has also been recognised by many medical professionals.

Most interestingly, The Independent has found that the country has not alerted the majority of its target audience to the launch, understanding that the demand would be too high, too soon, before hospitals and medical centres were ready.

“We didn’t want to have a huge [public awareness] drive before our hospitals were ready and a fit scheme was in place,” commented Dr Indu Bhushan, formerly the top Indian official at the Asian Development Bank and now Chief Executive Officer, Ayushman Bharat: National Health Protection Mission.

“When we had a meeting with the prime minister four months ago, he told us not to have this drive because he didn’t want people to go knocking at the doors of the hospitals asking for services [from day one].”

It will therefore be interesting to see how the new healthcare programme will be utilised by its target audience when the required infrastructure, financial accessibility and demand is fully met and those in need are fully supported.

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Jun 17, 2021

Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT

3 min
Erez Yarkoni, Global VP, explains how a three-way partnership between Check Point, HOOPP, and Microsoft is yielding optimum cloud security

Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.

“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.

Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:

  • Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
  • CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
  • Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data


However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”

In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies. 

The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help. 

“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”


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