Poor track record of poor man's health schemes

Lack of awareness, publicity dog projects under Central grant
Last Updated 25 September 2013, 19:20 IST

Unlike many of the Union government’s schemes that are very popular, some schemes which are meant to benefit people from below poverty line are largely unutilised due to lack of publicity and awareness.

The Central government’s Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) is meant for the underprivileged and aims to provide money for treatment of life threatening illnesses.

The Health Minister’s Cancer Patient Fund (HMCPF) is a scheme that aims to fund treatment of cancer in patients below poverty line. Both schemes allow for the utilisation of Rs one lakh per person for treatment. These can be availed at one of the 27 regional cancer care centres.

Nimmi Hegde, financial advisor at Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, said that since September 2009, 774 people have availed the benefit.

“We were given Rs 1.5 crore and we have used it all,” she said. According to a research by Kidwai institute, at any given point in time, there will be 1.5 lakh patients in Karnataka and 35,000 new cancer cases are added each year.

Though the scheme is aimed at providing financial assistance to the poor, those eligible are hardly aware that a scheme of this sort exist, said Dr Sachin Sinha, a city-based oral onco pathologist. The oncologist, who was part of the nationwide ‘Tobacco Free India campaign’ in 13 states, said he had found that most people were unaware about the centres where they get treatment.

“Even if someone actually wants to come here, it is difficult for them to bear the transport and accommodation expenses,” Dr Sinha said. This may make them think twice before coming here, he added. “Any reduction in expenses is a great help, but very few realise it,” he said.

Dr M Vijaykumar, director of Kidwai institute, said it was probably because more people know about and enrol for the State government’s Vajpayee Arogya scheme that the number of them covered under RAN is less. The director said he will not be able to explain exactly why the number of people from the State who have availed benefits under the HMCPF is so less. “Since it is a Central government scheme, they are responsible for publicising it,” he said. The financial assistance to cancer patients under HMCPF, up to Rs one lakh, is processed by the institute or hospital in whose disposal the revolving fund has been placed. The revolving fund is placed at the disposal of 27 regional cancer care centres, including Kidwai in Bangalore.

(Published 25 September 2013, 19:20 IST)

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