Now, health insurance for urban slum dwellers

March 6th, 2008 - 5:23 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Targeting the millions of poor people who live in urban slums, the health ministry has drawn up an ambitious plan to give them an insurance cover that will provide them with basic medical facilities. The insurance cover will be provided to 55 million slum dwellers living in 489 cities, towns and district headquarters across India under the National Urban Health Mission.

The mission will be launched in four months, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told IANS.

It is being launched on the initiative of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who wanted a similar programme on the lines of the National Rural Health Mission for urban slum dwellers.

The mission aims to address the primary health needs of the urban slum populace in cities and towns having a population of 100,000 and above.

“We have started the process and are hopeful that we will be able to launch the project in three to four months time. The proposal is with the finance ministry, after which it will go for cabinet approval,” Ramadoss said.

A sum of Rs.80 billion has been earmarked for the project under the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12).

The mission would actually cover 220 million people. Of this, around 55 million very poor people living in slum pockets will get an insurance cover of Rs.40-50,000.

“The government will give the first instalment of Rs.600 per person a year. Under this, a person can go to the outpatient department for treatment and for medical tests. The insurance money will go directly to the government hospital,” the minister said.

He said the funds would help the hospital improve its infrastructure and health facilities.

“It will be a cashless transaction as the money would go directly to the hospitals,” he added. Those not covered by the insurance policy can avail of it by paying a premium of Rs.600 and get the same medical facilities.

Private hospitals will have to get accreditation if they want to be part of the scheme, Ramadoss added.

Under the mission, the government will also hire and train women health volunteers, known as Usha, on the lines of Ashas or women community health workers in rural areas, he said.

The Ashas works in villages, creating awareness about health and on maternity and child welfare issues.

“The Ushas will cover a population of 2,000 and will have the same role to play as the Ashas,” he added.

Besides, a Mahila Arogya Samiti will be set up to be headed by a woman. “The samiti will be provided a seed amount of Rs.2,500-5,000 for carrying out cleanliness and sanitation works in their area. This will be a community-based programme,” Ramadoss said.

The government would also set up urban health centres for every 50,000 urban population. The existing ones would be updated. The centres would have a doctor, two nurses and five auxiliary nurse and midwives (ANM).

Voluntary organisations would also be roped in, he added. The urban health centres would also have basic laboratories for screening people for ailments like coronary, diabetes, hypertension and other diseases.

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