'80,000 benefit from TN health insurance scheme'

Last Updated: Mon, May 10, 2010 10:48 hrs

Chennai: Tamil Nadu has taken healthcare to the common man, says Dr S Vijayakumar, IAS, special secretary at the Health and Family Welfare department in Tamil Nadu.  

The state has witnessed a healthcare revolution in the last five years thanks to the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP) which was launched in 2005, he said.

Speaking to Sify.com on the sidelines of an international conference on healthcare at Mahabalipuram, Vijayakumar said the improvement of district and sub district hospitals has made quality healthcare accessible to large number of poor people in the state.

He said over 80,000 people benefited under the Kalaignar Insurance Scheme, which was launched in July last year.

Under the scheme, families whose annual income is less than Rs 72,000 per annum will get an insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh each for life saving treatment in government and private hospitals.  

About Rs 250 crore has been spent for treatment of poor people under the scheme, he added.

Introduction of the free ambulance service is yet another mile stone the state’s healthcare sector. The free service, which is available on dialing 108, has saved many poor people. It has considerably reduced mother mortality rate (MMR) in the state, claims Vijayakumar.  

However, most calls to 108 are not genuine, an example for how people misuse a facility for the needy, he said.  

“About 90 percent of the calls we receive at the ambulance call centres are pranks or hoaxes. However, we have to respond to all calls and send ambulances. We have to trust each caller because if we filter calls, it will be at the cost of the people in emergency. That should not happen. So our call centre executives have been instructed to respond positively to each call,” he said.

Vijayakumar said that while private players have turned Chennai into a healthcare destination for foreigners, the government and private sector participation made quality treatment affordable to the poor people in the state.   

Irrespective of this achievement, there is need for strengthening the healthcare sector in the state.
“There is need for better coordination of the different components like government, finance, quality treatment and information technology etc,”  he said.