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Swasthya Sathi: Push to create a robust IT platform for nation's first comprehensive health scheme covering about 10 crore people

Kolkata: With the Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announcing that the entire population of the state would be covered under the 'Swasthya Sathi', a comprehensive health scheme launched by the present government way back on December 30, 2016, the health department is now strengthening the existing infrastructure to run such a big project in smoother way.

It may be mentioned that the Centre's Ayushman Bharat scheme is also not as comprehensive as Swasthya Sathi scheme, where state has to share 40 per cent of the total cost

A senior health department official said that they have adequate infrastructure to ensure that people get the benefit of the health scheme without any difficulties. To ensure free health services to a huge number of people the government has created a robust IT platform so that there is no delay in providing health services.

"We are strengthening the existing infrastructure to provide free health services to all the people of the state. IT platforms will be given a further boost to monitor the health scheme on a real-time basis. We have always been in touch with the stakeholders and updating the package with inputs from the beneficiaries from time to time" the official said. According to health department sources, earlier 1.5 crore families were enrolled under Swasthya Sathi scheme which means as many as 7.5 crore population across the state had the privilege to avail the free treatment till the new announcement. But now the entire population of Bengal will be able to reap the benefits of the health scheme, which has already emerged to be the biggest health scheme by any state government. It was also learnt that nearly 12.5 lakh people across the state have directly benefited from the scheme and received treatment so far. The State government pulled out of the Centre's Ayushman Bharat scheme, as Swasthya Sathi is a more comprehensive health scheme that provides Rs 5 lakh cover to beneficiaries, which is on a par with the Ayushman Bharat

scheme. The State government started implementing Swasthya Sathi project much ahead of that of the Centre's Ayushman Bharat.

The state government has to share 40 per cent of the total cost in case of Ayushman Bharat. The Bengal government, following the instruction from the Chief Minister decided to run its own health scheme and bear the 100 per cent cost. What is more striking is that people from Bengal are now able to avail free specialized treatment at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMs) and Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore.

Rathin Ghosh, spokesperson of the ruling Trinamool Congress said: "Following the new announcement by the Chief Minister, the entire population is now brought under the scheme. It's a big project and people would be benefitted. When our government came to power in 2011, the number of doctors in the state stood at 37,000 but the number has now reached over 53,000. An infrastructure revamp has taken place in the health sector."

It may also be mentioned that the number of hospital beds has gone up to over 85,000 from what remained at around 58,000 during the erstwhile Left Front government. The number of medical colleges has gone up to 24 from 10 and the medical seats rose up to 4,000 from 1,500.

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