Health Free for All

India Today - - THE STATE OF THE STATES -

Things have never been so ex­cit­ing in Haryana,” says Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Health Ser­vices Dr Nar­bir Singh. He’s the man who has over­seen the state’s un­prece­dented trans­for­ma­tion on the health­care front, cour­tesy the 300-fold in­crease in gov­ern­men­tal spend­ing on health since 2004-05. Haryana’s bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion for 2011-12 is Rs 478.31 crore. In 2009, Haryana launched an au­dit, with the tar­get of screen­ing 30.65 lakh chil­dren, to frame a health pol­icy. What fol­lowed was a flood of never-be­fore schemes. Ac­tively backed by Chief Min­is­ter Bhupin­der Singh Hooda and Health Sec­re­tary Navraj Sandhu, Dr Singh and a team of doc­tors im­ple­mented health schemes that in­clude free es­sen­tial medicines, de­liv­er­ies and neona­tal health­care in govern­ment hos­pi­tals.

Surgery is free for BPL pa­tients and sub­sidised for oth­ers in state hos­pi­tals. Cae­sarean sec­tions and cleft lip surg­eries are free for all. And un­der the Rashtriya Ar­o­gya Swasthya Nidhi scheme launched in 2005-06, BPL fam­i­lies can get free spe­cialised ter­tiary med­i­cal care at all hos­pi­tals. Health depart­ment fig­ures show 1,42,096 pa­tients have ben­e­fited from the scheme un­til May 2011. “We even pro­vide free nu­tri­tional di­ets to preg­nant moth­ers,” says Dr Singh, adding Haryana’s suc­cesses are draw­ing a flood of en­quiries from other states. A team of health ex­perts from Bos­ton Univer­sity that re­cently toured district hos­pi­tals and block­level dis­pen­saries in the state said it had “never wit­nessed a turn­around on such a scale”, says Dr Singh.

The turn­around be­gan in 2005 with a highly lib­er­alised and de­cen­tralised doc­tor re­cruit­ment pol­icy un­der which nearly 3,000 new physi­cians and sur­geons were hired based on walk-in in­ter­views. Doc­tors vol­un­teer­ing to work in the most back­ward Mus­lim-dom­i­nated Me­wat district were of­fered an in­cen­tive of Rs 25,000 per month. “We have filled all but 200

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