Soon members of the Koraga tribe in Dakshina Kannada could hope to avail health care in private hospitals without a long wait for approvals from health officials.
Though government releases cost of treatment directly to hospitals under an arrangement now, the institutions provide treatment only after obtaining approval from the government case by case. Approvals take time as District Health Officer (DHO) will have to approve them after receiving the documents such as scans. Under the proposed scheme, this can be done online.
This will become possible when authorities digitise data about them and issue smart cards under the Vinutana scheme. At present, smart card registrations, information verification and data compilations are on in full-swing as the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) struggles against time to meet its December-end deadline.
It will benefit nearly 1,206 families or 4,858 persons — who come under the community recognised as a Primitive Tribal Group — in the district. They can avail treatment at select private hospitals, the cost of which the department reimburses.
After the launch last year, KVG Hospital in Sullia joined the list of private hospitals to offer the scheme in September. This is in addition to the tie-ups with A.J. Hospital and Research Centre, Father Muller Hospital and College, Kasturba Medical College, Yenepoya Hospital (all in Mangalore); Abhaya Hospital in Belthangady; and City Hospital in Puttur.
Since the launch in April, 2012, a total of 53 persons from the Koraga community have availed this facility, with a total disbursement of Rs. 25.68 lakh having been approved so far.
Cutting the red tape
“This (the new system) allows the process of approval to be much faster. The DHO can see the scan online, and approve it immediately,” said Sabeer Ahmed Mulla, ITDP Project Co-ordinator. He said around 70 per cent of the information collected from the Koragas has been digitised so far, while smart cards have been distributed to 30 per cent of the Koraga population.
“Though the deadline is December-end, we may lag behind by 10 or 20 per cent,” he said.
Many Koragas do not have passport-size photographs, and we need to arrange for this, said Somshekhar, a tribal inspector. “Plus, with many documents not in order – including date of birth – we have had to verify all the information given.”