Nobel laureate unveils loan for poor Indian heart patientsAugust 19th, 2008 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS
Bangalore, Aug 19 (IANS) Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunis Tuesday launched a novel loan scheme of the State Bank of India (SBI) for cardiac treatment of poor patients at Narayana Hrudayalaya health city here.As the first of its kind bank product for heart care in the country, state-run SBI will offer loan up to Rs.50,000 at 8.5 percent interest rate per annum to poor patients needing urgent cardiac intervention at Narayana hospital Bangalore initially.
“The SBI Hrudaya Suraksha scheme is being launched as a pilot project to evaluate the concept of offering loan on easy interest terms for those below poverty line - earning less than $2 a day - who need urgent cardiac intervention,” SBI chairman and managing director O.P. Bhat said on the occasion.
Terming the heart care loan scheme as revolutionary, Bhat said it was ironical that while bank loans were available for building a house, buying a car or even a fridge, there was no such loan offered to save a life.
“Once the concept is evolved from the pilot project, the loan scheme will be offered from our health cities in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Jamshedpur and Kolkata. The game plan is to build a financial security network for poorer sections of society, who do not have enough money at hand for medical eventualities,” said Bhat.
Narayana Hrudayalaya founder Devi Shetty said the loan amount (Rs.50,000) would meet about 80 percent of the total cost (Rs.65,000) for a heart surgery of poor cardiac patients to be identified and subsidised by the hospital.
The average cost of a heart surgery at Shetty’s health cities is about Rs.100,000.
“The hospital will bear the interest amount for the first three months after the surgery. The loan has to be fully repaid with interest due in six months of treatment. Though no collateral security is required, the loan is sanctioned in joint names with the patient and his/her spouse or kin as co-borrower,” said Shetty.
In case of children, the loan facility can be availed by parents.
He said only 80,000 heart surgeries were done in India per year as against the staggering requirement of 2.5 million.
“Around eight percent of total cardiac patients can afford a heart surgery even at a conservative rate of Rs.100,000, while the remaining 92 percent have to be taken care of through bank loans or health insurance,” Shetty said.
Incidentally, Indians are genetically three times more vulnerable to heart attack than their counterparts in the West. More over, the average age of an Indian patient is 45 years as against 65 in Britain.
“Strange as it may sound, in India it is not a young son who takes his father for a heart surgery but the other way around. There is an urgent need to create a network to offer healthcare at an affordable price and help the needy to raise funds for the heart operation,” Shetty added.
Lauding SBI and Shetty for jointly launching such a unique product, Yunis hoped Narayana Hrudayalaya would launch a similar scheme in Bangladesh in association with Grameen Bank.
“Banks have lot of power to bring about a sea-change in everyone’s life. Their services can be extended beyond business and commercial activity to various facets of life such as health insurance,” Yunis noted.