“Aarogyasri is God’s gift. I would not have survived but for the cashless treatment provided under it,” said 46-year-old Rupa Pujari, who has been undergoing dialysis under the scheme for the past two years.

She is one of the several thousands of beneficiaries who are getting free haemodialysis treatment under Aarogyasri across 19 dedicated centres in the State from Srikakulam to Warangal. The scheme to help poor patients with kidney failure completed four years of service on November 6.

After both her kidneys failed four years ago, Ms. Rupa had to shell out around Rs.10,000 every month for her treatment for about two years. After learning about the Aarogysri scheme, she began availing treatment and has been undergoing haemodialysis for the past two years. Echoing similar views, 71-year-old Rahmat Ali Khan said it would have been very difficult to meet the expenditure had it not been for the free treatment under Aarogyasri. “In the past, I had to sell something to pay for the treatment. But now we even get medicines, apart from haemodialysis. We are grateful to the government,” he added.

According to Prof. Pradeep Deshpande, emeritus professor of Nephrology, Gandhi Medical College, around 30,000 kidney failure patients have benefited from cashless treatment since the launch of the scheme. It was initiated after a number of poor patients began approaching the then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy for financial assistance for dialysis treatment. He said it was started in public-private partnership mode by installing 18 dialysis machines in Gandhi Hospital, 15 in Osmania Hospital here and some in Visakhapatnam.

He said that proposals were pending with the State government to increase the number of haemodialysis centres to 25 across the State, besides starting CAPD (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis) and paediatric haemodialysis. He said that the Gandhi Hospital has been designated as the nodal centre.

Officials from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu had visited Gandhi Hospital and evinced interest in the scheme.