The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rain of health sops

Guwahati, Aug. 26: Assam today unveiled a bouquet of free healthcare services that would do any welfare state proud — a super speciality hospital, pacemakers for cardiac patients, chemotherapy for cancer sufferers and post-operative medication for those who undergo kidney transplant.

Health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the prohibitive cost of medicare had financially ruined many families, forcing them to sell their possessions to raise money for treatment of serious ailments.

“The government has decided to arrange for free chemotherapy for cancer patients. Chemotherapy sessions are costly but people can henceforth undergo therapy free of cost at Dr B. Borooah Cancer Institute in Guwahati,” he said.

Pacemakers will be available at government hospitals free of charge, depending on the patient’s financial condition. Patients who are capable of paying will be charged a token amount.

The Congress-led government will also bear the recurring expenditure on purchase of medicines for patients who undergo kidney transplant.

That’s not all. The government will set up a super speciality hospital near Gauhati Medical College and Hospital in Bhangagarh. Delhi has sanctioned Rs 88.75 crore for the 3,000-bed hospital.

“The hospital is expected to become operational within a couple of years,” Sarma said. The minister promised efficient ambulance services in all 60 wards in Guwahati. “Once a person calls the toll-free number 200, he/she will have an ambulance at the doorstep within 10 minutes.”

But where will all the money required for the healthcare schemes come from'

Sarma said the Centre had pumped in as much as Rs 619 crore for the National Rural Health Mission during 2007-08. He attributed the massive transfusion of funds to the “remarkable improvement” of the state’s healthcare sector during the previous fiscal.

During a recent meeting where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed the performance of NRHM, Assam was placed in the category of the best-performing states.

Sarma said the funds received for the current financial year would be utilised for several projects, including setting up 120 hospitals for round-the-clock delivery cases, special care units at Dibrugarh and Jorhat and at MMC Hospital in Guwahati to treat sick newborns, offering all logistical aid to 77 tea garden hospitals and seven boat clinics to reach patients in char and other riverine areas.

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