Free Medical For Poor

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By A Correspondent

It's raining sops for the poor.  Govt is making treatment of people below poverty line suffering from mental disorders and diabetes free at govt or public super speciality hospitals like AIIMS.

Earlier Times of India had reported the government's plan to gift cell phones to the poor.

In the maiden endorsement of India's swelling burden of patients suffering from mental disorders, the ministry has included it under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) — the scheme that till now provided financial assistance to only those BPL patients suffering from major life-threatening diseases like cancer. 

All BPL patients suffering from mental disorders like depression, anxiety, adjustment and personality disorders will be given a free one-time grant of upto Rs 1 lakh for treatment.

In cases where the quantum of financial assistance is likely to exceed Rs 1.5 lakh, they will be referred to an expert committee headed by the DGHS for consideration.

The ministry has also included diabetes — an ail-ment that presently affects nearly 50 million Indians — under RAN.

A ministry note says, "7% of population suffers from mental disorders. Around 13 crore Indians are suffering from some form of mental illness like depression and anxiety syndromes to psychosomatic disorders and schizophrenia. Over 90% remain untreated. There is less than one psychiatrist available for every four lakh population. The psychiatrist/population ratio is one for every million."

For providing financial assistance to the needy patients, an advance of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 40 lakh has been kept with medical superintendents of institutes like the AIIMS, RML Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College (Delhi), PGIMER (Chandigarh), JIPMER (Puducherry), NIMHANS (Bangalore), CNCI (Kolkata), SGPGIMS (Lucknow), Gandhi Memorial and Associated Hospitals (Lucknow), RIMS (Imphal) and NEIGRIHMS (Shillong) to enable immediate sanction of an amount up to Rs 1 lakh in each deserving case.

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad says it is a matter of great concern that India has such a high burden of mental disorders, with such disorders still grossly overlooked in India. He said that about 20% of all patients seen by primary healthcare doctors have one or more mental disorders. One in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioural or mental disorder.

India currently has 23% of required psychiatrists, 25% of required psychiatric nurses and only 3% of the required clinical psychologists and psychiatric social workers. In absolute numbers, India has 3,500 psychiatrists, 500 clinical psychologists, 300 psychiatric social workers and about a 1,000 psychiatric nurses.

Also, only 200 beds are available for mentally ill against 30,000 required,

"Even by a conservative yardstick, there is a shortage of about 8,000 psychiatrists, 17,000 clinical psychologists, 23,000 psychiatric social workers and 9,000 psychiatric nurses," Azad said.

[Source: South Asian Media Net]


Vol. 12 - No. 3


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