Arogyakiranam provides free medical care for all chronic diseases

The State government will take up the total responsibility of the health of all children in the State under the age of 18 regardless of their BPL/APL status, and provide them free medical care for all chronic diseases, including cancer, heart and renal disorders, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said.

Announcing the launch of Arogyakiranam, the State’s modified version of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) — a new national programme under the National Rural Health Mission that offers a comprehensive health package for children up to 18 years — here on Friday, Mr. Chandy said the State government was fully committed to ensuring equity in health care in the State.

By announcing a slew of health care initiatives on Friday, as part of the UDF government’s celebration of two years in governance, Mr. Chandy left none in doubt that his government considered Health to be a priority sector.

The RBSK, launched in February, envisages early screening and interventions to prevent or manage nearly 30 birth defects and deficiencies, including developmental delays and disabilities, in children with follow-up treatment and tertiary care services.

Kerala is already implementing many of these child health initiatives on its own, including the ‘Thalolam’ scheme, cochlear implantation scheme, new-born screening programmes, and the ‘Ammayum Kunjum’ scheme for new-born care.

Under Arogyakiranam, the Health Department intends to bring about a convergence of all these child health initiatives, which will be implemented utilising the Central funds that the State will get under the RBSK.

Mr. Chandy announced that the government’s cochlear implantation scheme for children with congenital hearing loss would now be extended to all children across the State who require this treatment and will not be restricted to specific numbers or to the APL/ BPL categories.

Accident insurance

The accident insurance of Rs.2 lakh, now given to families registered under the RSBY-CHIS insurance scheme of the State, would be extended to even those families who were not registered under the scheme from next year onwards. The beneficiaries would be selected on the basis of ration cards, Aadhar cards, and income certificates. The government would bear the entire premium.

Mr. Chandy also said a monthly pension of Rs.1,000 would be given to HIV positive persons. This would be implemented through the Department of Social Justice (SJ) from next year. He announced the setting up of a Social Care-givers’ Cadre under the SJ department, a volunteers’ group which would help the department in the implementation of various welfare schemes for the aged and the destitute.

The government also decided to issue BPL ration cards to all deserving families in the State. Now that the government’s various flagship programmes and development initiatives were up and running, 2014 would be dedicated for improving the availability of safe drinking water and ensuring water security, Mr. Chandy said.

Most of the senior Cabinet members, senior government officials, and MLAs attended the second anniversary celebrations of the UDF government.