K. Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy
HYDERABAD: A student of Shaikpet Government School K. Gouri just finished her lunch along with her mother at children’s ward in Mahavir Hospital. She was one of the thousands of kids who receive free treatment at the hospital, under the School Health Programme (SHP), a public health initiative of Naandi and NICE Foundations for the government schools with a surprising budget of just 50 paisa per child per day.
The programme, which began in February 2005, covers about 53,000 children in 254 government schools in five mandals, Bandlaguda, Asifnagar, Bahadurpura, Shaikpet and Golconda in the city. As the caption of SHP aptly puts it, ‘If you are not well, come to school’.
The programme offers a strong incentive for children of poor localities.
“Ill health is commonly cited reason for school dropouts. Now, they are sure of 360-degree medical coverage; treatment from simple fever to complex cardiac surgeries,” says M. Padmanabh Reddy, leading paediatrician who quit a lucrative private practice to set up NICE Foundation. “From 2005, primary centres have provided basic treatment to 1.71 lakh children. Of them, 2,431 children admitted as in-patients at Mahavir Hospital, which the base hospital. More than 316 surgeries were done,” Dr. Reddy says.
The SHP has a well-structured system in place. If the problem is serious, children would be shifted either to base hospital, which hosts a 24-bed children ward, or other multi-speciality hospitals. Dr. Reddy says running the programme at such low cost was possible due to the cooperation from different hospitals, pharma companies and a motivated team of physicians.