LPG connections to 1.5 crore houses

LPG connections to 1.5 crore houses

The NDA government on Monday has sought to expand the public healthcare net by launching a new health protection scheme to aid the economically vulnerable segment.

The move includes providing dialysis services through the national health mission and supplying LPG connections to kitchens so that women remain healthy.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced setting aside Rs 2,000 crore in the budget to fund new LPG connections to 1.5 crore houses belonging to people from below poverty line (BPL) category. The scheme will continue for two more years to cover 5 crore BPL households.

“Women of India have faced the curse of smoke during the process of cooking. According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour. The time has come to remedy this situation,” Jaitley said.

In his post-budget remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated Jaitley for the scheme that would help remove indoor air pollution, one of the 10 key risk factors, identified by the United Nations, behind rising death and disability due to non-communicable diseases.

With India having one of the world’s largest number of chronic kidney disease patients, majority of whom die within months in the absence of dialysis, the centre proposed to offer the dialysis services in district hospitals under the national health mission.

“Funds will be made available through the public private partnership mode. To reduce the cost, I propose to exempt certain parts of dialysis equipment from basic customs duty, excise, counter-veiling duty and special additional duty,” Jaitley said. India gets about 2.2 lakh new patients of end-stage renal disease every year resulting in additional demand for 3.4 crore dialysis sessions. But with about 4,950 dialysis centres in India, largely in the private sector and concentrated in the major towns, the demand is only half met.

Every dialysis session costs about Rs 2,000, which means an annual expenditure of more than Rs three lakh. Besides, most families have to undertake frequent trips, often over long distances, to access dialysis services, incurring heavy travel costs and loss of wages.

“This will help reduce financial suffering of lakhs of patients, who can not afford kidney transplants,” said D S Rana, a senior nephrologist from Sir Gangaram Hospital, Delhi.

A new health protection scheme with a cover of Rs one lakh medical insurance per family has been announced in the budget. For senior citizens the package of Rs 130,000 per year. The centre also plans to launch 3,000 Jan Aushadhi stores to sell generic medicines at an affordable price. 

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