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All residents of Bengal will be covered by 'Swastha Sathi' scheme: Mamata

All residents of Bengal will be covered by Swastha Sathi scheme: Mamata

Kolkata: In a major announcement on Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the entire population of the state, effective from December 1, 2020, will get coverage of the state government's 'Swasthya Sathi' health scheme.

The initiative is slated to benefit at least 10 crore people for which the Bengal government will spend Rs 2,000 crore every year. People can easily apply for the same when state government officials will visit each block under the "duare duare sarkar" initiative.

"We have already taken the move of bringing 7.5 crore people under the 'Swasthya Sathi' scheme. Now I am announcing a major decision of our government that is to provide 'Swasthya Sathi' digital cards to every family in the state so that each and every resident gets the benefit of the scheme. Whether it is a woman, a child or an aged person, everyone will come under the coverage of the scheme irrespective of their religion," Banerjee said adding that another 2.5 crore will get added to the list of beneficiaries.

The digital card that Banerjee launched on Thursday will be issued in the name of the woman head of the family. "It is also a step ahead towards consolidating woman empowerment," Banerjee said adding that each family will be getting health coverage of Rs 5 lakh per year under the scheme and the state government is bearing the entire cost of the project.

The speciality of the card is that its facility is available in private hospitals also. There are around 1,500 empanelled hospitals under the scheme. One can also avail its facility at AIIMS and CMC Vellore. Costly treatment relating to life threatening diseases like cancer, kidney ailments and heart attack can also be undertaken against the 'Swasthya Sathi' card, the Chief Minister said.

The scheme, officially launched by Banerjee in December 2016 is a basic health cover for secondary and tertiary care up to Rs five lakh per annum per family and ensures cashless treatment.

This comes when the Bengal government provided free-of-cost health services at all state-run hospitals and health care centres. Banerjee said: "Free-of-cost treatment is provided at all state-run hospitals in the state. Now, this is for the first time across the globe when the entire population of a state is being universally brought under health insurance for which the state government will be paying the entire premium. None of the beneficiaries have to pay a single penny as premium to avail the facility."

The Chief Minister said: "We have taken the move despite financial constraints just considering that it will benefit the people of Bengal. The Centre is not clearing Rs 8,500 crore GST compensation and has given only Rs 193 crore when the state government has already spent more than Rs 4,000 crore for Covid management."

On Thursday, Banerjee also announced a hike of Rs 1,000 crore in the salary of 'anganwadi' workers from December onwards. The state government had earlier increased the salary of Asha workers.

Meanwhile, paying tribute to B R Ambedkar on Constitution Day, the Chief Minister called for keeping the spirit of secularism, democracy, justice alive.

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