All Expenses Paid
When Fak Zuala, 50, a landless farm hand from Darlawn, vomited blood for two days, he knew he had to somehow get himself to the Aizawl Civil Hospital ( ACH) 150 km away to be in safe hands. A neigbour who was Aizawl-bound brought him along. Zuala, now a relieved man, is awaiting the doctor’s nod to be discharged. His entire expense, right down to three bottles of blood, was borne by the government under the combined Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna ( RSBY) and Mizoram State Health Care Scheme ( MSHCS).
In the bed next to Zuala is K. Rimawia, 33, a daily wage earner from Zawngin, 170 km off Aizawl. Doctors have not been able to diagnose the cause of his fever and are contemplating sending him to a bigger hospital in Guwahati. “We have a tie-up with several hospitals in Guwahati and Kolkata whereby patients referred by us get treatment up to Rs 3 lakh free,” says Lalbiak Kima, ACH medical superintendent.
“Under RSBY, a below poverty line patient gets free treatment up to Rs 30,000 while another Rs 70,000 is paid under MSHCS, if needed. In case of critical illness, the patient gets free treatment up to Rs 3 lakh,” says Health Minister Lalrinliana Sailo. People above the poverty line can also avail the facility by paying a yearly premium of Rs 500-Rs 1,000. Sailo has made it mandatory for every doctor to serve two years in remote areas. “Now, doctors do not mind serving in remote areas since it is a fixed tenure of two years,” says Sailo.
A total of 110 healthcare officials were recruited in 2009 and 2010 and posted to rural areas. The results are evident. Malaria deaths came down from 119 in 2009 to 31 in 2010. Admission of pregnant women in hospitals for delivery has increased from 65 per cent in 2008 to 76 per cent in 2010. Mizoram is also the only state in the North-east to have a government eye bank. Till October 13, 58 corneas have been collected and 41 transplants performed at ACH. Sailo wants more. “Mizoram needs a medical collegecum-hospital. I’m doing all I can to set it up,” he says.