Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh announced the 'Arogya Sri' health scheme under which the state government will issue 1.80 crore health cards to families living below the poverty line.
The CM announced this after a review meeting with Medical Education and Health Insurance Minister Galla Aruna and senior Medical and Health department officials.
The program was launched on a pilot basis last year in three districts. Now it aims to cover all districts by the end of November 2008 covering nearly all the BPL families in a phased manner.
The first of its kind program in India aims to help the BPL families to avail free medical treatment in network hospitals. They can now avail of treatment for such diseases as cancer, heart problems, renal and neurological disorders which are otherwise be beyond their means. The treatment also includes surgery for burns above 30 per cent, treating deaf and dumbness and blood transfusion.
The health card contains the details of the family members, their photographs, white ration card, information about eight ailments and toll free number.
More than 80 lakh people have benefited from the pilot scheme. Nearly 3,300 surgeries were performed at a cost of Rs. 18 crore in 69 network hospitals. A sum of Rs. 70 crore has been earmarked for Arogyasri. 1,638 government doctors would be recruited in all Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and district hospitals to meet the requirements. The government allocated Rs 146 crore to supply medicines to all PHCs in 2007-08, as against Rs 61 crore allocated in 2003-04.
The Chief Minister also asked the officials to ensure that the welfare schemes taken by the Government reach the poor, downtrodden and the toiling masses.