The chief minister’s instruction to bring 7.5 crore people of West Bengal under Swasthya Sathi scheme has prompted the state health department to initiate a programme to provide medical benefits to at least 1 crore people by November-end. The department has already set up camps in various districts for this purpose.
“Our CM has said in February that the state government will bring 7.5 crore people under Swasthya Sathi. This target cannot be achieved in a day. We need to fix targets and a time frame, and work to meet the targets,” Bengal minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya said.
A senior health department official said: “If we can register 1 crore beneficiaries directly under this scheme, then indirectly their families will get benefitted. This will allow us to reach out to at least 1.5 crore people.”
According to state officials, those eligible for the scheme include people registered under BPL category and RSBY, medical professionals such as ASHA workers, members of ICDS and Self-Help Groups, civic volunteers and teachers. “The government is thinking of creating a wider net so that more people can come under this scheme, but it is yet to be formulated,” the official said.
Available data shows that at present, more than 20 lakh families or over 1 crore people get cashless medical benefits in 1,472 government and private hospitals of Bengal. “Another 140 hospitals are in the pipeline,” the official said.
The Swasthya Sathi scheme was launched by CM Mamata Banerjee in February 2017 and till now, 7.12 lakh people have benefitted from it. “There has been a claim of Rs 722 crore, of which the government has paid Rs 400 crore. As the number of beneficiaries will increase now, the government will have to cough up nearly Rs 900 crore for the purpose,” the official added.
Source: Times of India