Chairperson of UPA Sonia Gandhi will inaugurate two major initiatives of the Health Department on September 29, on her visit to the State capital, Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar has said.

Arogyakiranam — which ensures free medical care to all children for all ailments till they are 18 years — and distribution of free generic drugs in all government hospitals, would come into effect on October 2, he said. Both APL/BPL families could derive the benefits of the scheme through government hospitals.

Arogyakiranam is the State’s modified version of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), a new national programme under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), offering a comprehensive health package for children up to 18 years. RBSK, launched in February, envisages early screening and intervention to prevent or manage about 30 birth defects, and deficiencies including developmental delays and disabilities in children, with follow-up treatment.

Kerala is already implementing many of these child health initiatives on its own. 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 which will come to the State under RBSK.

An amount of Rs.21.6 crore has been allocated for the scheme through NRHM. Early intervention centres have been planned in all districts under Arogyakiranam.

Under the scheme to distribute generic drugs free of cost, all government hospitals, up till primary health centres, will provide 820 drugs to patients coming to OP clinics. Committees have been set up at the hospital, district, and State-levels for the implementation of the scheme.

Expert committees, including doctors as members, have also been set up at every district to monitor the stocks in the godowns of Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd., Mr. Sivakumar said.

Sankar statue

The Congress president will unveil a bronze statue of the former Chief Minister R. Shankar, installed under the initiative of the Thiruvananthapuram R. Shankar Foundation, near Martyrs’ Square at Palayam here on September 29.

This was announced at a press conference on Wednesday by Foundation chairman T. Sharathchandra Prasad, who led a rally with the idol from the Gokarnath Temple, Kudroli in Karnataka, on August 25 and reached the State capital on August 31.

After the unveiling of the statue at 5 p.m. on September 29, Ms. Gandhi will inaugurate a public meeting at the University Senate Hall.

0Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Union Ministers A.K. Antony, Vayalar Ravi, Shashi Tharoor and K.C. Venugopal, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien will attend the meet.

Seminar

A seminar on ‘R. Sankar and Kerala’s Politics’ will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, the 51{+s}{+t}anniversary of R. Sankar assuming power as the first Congress Chief Minister of the State. Speaker G. Karthikeyan will inaugurate the seminar. Mr. Chennithala will preside. Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, Ministers K.M. Mani, K.C. Joseph and others will address the function.

Schemes are free medical care for all children for all ailments and distribution of free drugs in government hospitals.

More In: KERALA | NATIONAL