The aim is to help those who cannot afford to pay for treatment of major illnesses, says Khader

The government is contemplating to bring the Above Poverty Line (APL) segment of people within the ambit of the Vajpayee Arogyasri Scheme, said Minister for Health and Family Welfare U.T. Khader. He was speaking at a press meet in Mangalore on Friday.

The aim was to bring those who are APL but cannot afford to pay for treatment of major illnesses, Mr. Khader said. It would include government employees from ‘C’ and ‘D’ categories and government teachers. The scheme will be available to patients with seven health problems including cardiac, cancer, renal, burns, neonatal and neurological problems.

The government is empanelling both government and private hospitals, which have the required infrastructure required to address the seven health problems, to implement the scheme. In Dakshina Kannada, the empanelled hospitals are A.J. Hospital, Wenlock Hospital, Mangalore Institute of Oncology, Yenepoya, KSHEMA, Father Muller’s, Unity, Indiana and Omega.

N. Ramesh, Regional Consultant Mysore Division, Vajpayee Arogyasri Scheme, said people can access the hospitals in two ways: through health camps conducted each month at the taluk and district levels, or as “walk-ins” to the hospitals.

He said that of six crore people in Karnataka, four crore are covered under BPL schemes. Of the two crore remaining, one crore is the creamy layer and one crore is a middle class whose income is immediately above that of BPL and which requires medical cover for the illnesses covered by the scheme.

Mr. Khader said that Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers will receive an incentive to refer or escort patients to the networked hospitals or to the camps. He said pilot projects will be started for Universal Health Insurance scheme for BPL in three cities in the state. These will be started in Mangalore, Mysore and Raichur.

P. Boregowda, Executive Director, Vajpayee Arogyasri Scheme, urged Kasturba Medical College (KMC) Manipal, to re-start treatment of cancer patients under the scheme. He said the government treatment follows standard treatment guidelines and if that were wrong, then the other hospitals should be complaining.

Health Minister U.T. Khader said generic medicines will be available at the taluk level throughout the state within two to three months. The scheme is awaiting issuance of a government order. “By December, this scheme will be ready to be implemented,” he said.

Generic medicines will be routed for retail through outlets of Mysore Sales International Limited (MSIL).

He said that 70 Arogya Mitras will be appointed in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Kodagu. Arogya Mitras in the hospital verify eligibility criteria of the beneficiary patient, provide counselling, and guide and help him to consult doctors.

He said all blood banks in the state will be networked online so that blood required in one district could be met from blood available in another district. There is lack of awareness in districts of North Karnataka where donating blood is seen as life-threatening and blood banks are not replenished, he said. Facilities to transport blood from one part of the state to another is being examined.

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