Healthcare facilities in Bengal much ahead of BJP-ruled states: TMC
Kolkata: Taking potshots at the bevy of BJP leaders being sent here ahead of polls, minister of state for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya on Thursday said that the state is much ahead in healthcare sector under the TMC government, and it is for the BJP-ruled states to emulate
Bengal instead of the other way round.
The minister said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee—who herself holds the health portfolio with Bhattacharya being her junior, is an exemplary leader in the country who has taken initiatives to provide free treatment to people in the state-run health care establishments—even for the most expensive surgeries.
Making an indirect reference to BJP leader Dilip Ghosh's claim of turning Bengal into Gujarat, Bhattacharya said such leaders should know that "massive progress" has been made by the TMC government in the healthcare sector.
The number of hospital beds in West Bengal stands at 85,627, while BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh which has nearly double the population of the eastern state has 76,260 hospital beds, Karnataka has 69,721, MP has 31,106 and Gujarat has 20,172 beds only, the TMC leader said.
"Do you want 20,172 beds as in Gujarat in place of 85,627 in West Bengal?" she asked sarcastically.
Bhattacharya said, before the TMC came to power in 2011, the number of
hospital beds in the state was 58,647 and it has been increased by over 27,000 by 2020.
The budgetary allocation on health care has increased by 6.8 per cent in 2019-2020 in the eastern state, while in Gujarat it has increased by 4.3 per cent during the same period, she said.
In West Bengal, healthcare in all three sectors - primary, secondary and tertiary - is free, the minister said.
The number of medical colleges in the state has increased from 10 to 24 and seats in medical education have gone up from 1,500 to more than 4,000 in the Mamata Banerjee regime, she said.
"Does any of the states from where these outsiders are coming provide such facilities? Is it not an example that should be followed by other states of the country?" she asked.
The minister further highlighted the advantages of the state's 'Swastha Sathi' scheme—introduced by the Chief Minister in 2016—over the centre-sponsored Ayushman Bharat. Bhattacharya emphasised that 'Swastha Sathi' establishes women empowerment in the state.
"The Swastha Sathi card is issued in the name of a woman who is considered to be the head of the family and through the scheme, a close connection is established between her parents and her in laws," she said. Moreover, to get Ayushman Bharat scheme cards, one has to spend Rs 30. So, a family of 5 ends up spending Rs 150. "The Centre has claimed that it has so far given cards to 20 crore people and thus bagged Rs 6500 crore by distributing the identity cards," the minister added.
Demolishing the allegation that the people of Bengal have been deprived of medical treatment for not
implementing Ayushman Bharat, she said: "We should keep in mind that Swastha Sathi was introduced in December 2016 by Mamata Banerjee while Ayushman Bharat was introduced in October 2018. Moreover, under
Ayushman Bharat the state government has to pay 40 per cent of the cost of treatment
while medical treatment in state run hospitals is free in
Bengal. Then why should we accept the scheme?" she
The chief minister has written to the Union health minister that West Bengal is willing to introduce Ayushman Bharat provided funds are
routed through the state government.
"Bengal always welcomes people from everywhere, but if outsiders show menacing eyes with some sinister designs here, then the state will
not tolerate them. We are seeing that those who do not have any knowledge about the state's heritage or culture are being sent here," Bhattacharya
added. with agency inputs