WB to churn out micro insurance scheme

Kolkata, Oct 7 : Grappling with poor health infrastructure and lack of efficient doctors, the block hospitals of the state are all set to fall in the line of a new health insurance scheme involving indigent rural areas of Bengal, State Minister for health and family welfare Chandrima Bhattacharya said here on Saturday.

Addressing at the 8th Healthcare East, a flagship annual health seminar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Saturday, Bhattacharya said that the West Bengal government has invited private insurance partners to join hands with the public sector to make this come true.

Bhattacharya said, "The State Government will introduce micro insurance schemes in block hospitals, where a person can get a coverage of Rs 30,000 for five in a family with a premium of Rs 30. We invited private insurance companies to become a partner of this scheme."

However the scheme will roll out in the state after all the core issues are settled with private companies and the necessary paper works are done.

The Health Ministry has been a portfolio primarily pertaining to state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee since the TMC government was coronated to rule the state.

The Minister said that altogether 35 fair price medicine shops are functional in the state, where the government aims to augment to 52 within December.

She further informed that a whopping 105 crore have been procured this year by selling the generic medicines which benefitted more than 3 million people across the state.

Besides that, people also received a massive amount of Rs 64-65 crore as a rebate.

"There were only 6 Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU) functioning when we came to power. Today within 2 years there are 35 SNCUs working with 5 more to appear soon," she said.

"Presently 166 Special Units (SU) are running successfully. We have mapped 36 critical care units out of which 6 have already started functioning," she noted.

The state government is all set to incorporate 51 more dialysis units with the existing ones in North and South Bengal within December, said Bhattacharya.

The Co-Chairman, CII Eastern Region Healthcare Subcommittee and CEO, Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI), Suyash Borar talked at length with the press about the practice of tele-medicine.

"We will have to drive awareness campaigns regarding tele-medicine," said Borar.

Telemedicine is a practice involving the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance.

It has been in practice for 12 years in West Bengal but lack of awareness about it cost the benefits of tele-medicine heavily, noted Borar.

"We are initiating 10 centres in 6 months to start tele-medicine with the first from CMRI. Primarily 4 centers of excellence (Gastro, Neuro, Nephro, Ortho) will be started. Later we have plans to set up 5 tele-medicine centers in Bengal and 5 more in Eastern India," Borar said.

Rupali Basu, Chairperson, CII Eastern Region Healthcare Subcommittee and CEO, Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, Kolkata, said, "Micro insurance is the high end care to reach out to the masses. It is the need of the hour."

"Urban residents, who make up 28 percent of India's population, have access to 66 percent of the country's available hospital beds, while the remaining 72 percent who live in rural areas have access to just one-third of the beds," said she.

"In such a scenario, the importance of micro insurance is prevalent for the betterment in the standard of the rural poor," Basu asserted.

--IBNS (Posted on 08-10-2013)

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