India would launch a National Urban Health Mission at a cost of Rs. 8,000 crore, federal Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has announced.
The mission would cover all cities and towns with more than a hundred thousand population. To begin with, it would be launched in about 450 cities and towns. It would focus on 5.5 crore slum dwellers.
The government itself would pay the health insurance premium for slum-dwellers. The private sector as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would be involved in the effort to reach out to the masses under the programme, which would work in synergy with the earlier rural health mission. Urban local bodies would monitor implementation in their jurisdiction, the minister said Friday.
An Urban Social Health Activist would be appointed for every 200 population. An urban health centre would also be set up for every 50,000 population. Self-help groups of women, Mahila Arogya Samitis, would be formed for every 100 households to monitor health issues at the grass roots. The Centre would provide them a seed money of about Rs 2,500.
Besides the initiative would seek to ensure that ambulances were available within 7-15 minutes of a telephone call anywhere in the country by 2010. A national programme on emergency and trauma care would soon be launched to ensure this and also improve highway safety at an initial cost of Rs 760 crore.
Ambulances would be available on every 50-km stretch on the highways, trauma centres set up on every 100 km and speciality centres located every 150 km. A telephone facility would be provided on every 5-km stretch.
Dr. Ramadoss was speaking at the 12th convocation of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bangalore in southern India.
He also announced that a national road safety board would be set up. A road safety policy bill was ready to be tabled in the parliament, he said.
Dr. Ramadoss noted that road accidents alone were claiming nearly one lakh lives every year and costing the country nearly Rs. 55,000 crore, amounting to three per cent of the GDP.