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India – Health insurance scheme proposed for slum dwellers

Pune – For the first time in the city, a health insurance scheme for slum dwellers has been proposed as part of the services to be delivered to the ‘urban poor’ under the National Urban Health Mission. A series of workshops which were held in Pune before the terror attacks in Mumbai had had experts from municipal corporations and municipal councils across the state participating in how to provide better services to the urban poor.

The NUHM — which is modeled along the lines of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) — is aimed at providing basic health care facilities for the urban population- especially urban slum dwellers. Free of cost health care facilities will be available under the NUHM, Pune Municipal Corporation’s City Family Welfare bureau chief Dr Anjali Sabne said.

While the NUHM has to be officially launched in the country, states have been given guidelines and civic officials in their respective cities are preparing an action plan to ensure services to the urban poor. Initially in the first phase 100 cities in the country will launch NUHM. This includes Pune. Forty per cent of the city’s population lives in slums and according to Dr Sabne at least 8-10 lakh are slum dwellers.

The PMC has already put in place an insurance scheme for senior citizens and as part of the NUHM will include slum dwellers in its fold. The slum dwellers will have to pay a minimal amount and via the insurance model can avail health care facilities at private hospitals. “We are still in the planning stages,’’says Sabne.

As the NRHM has set up Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA’s) at rural places, there will be an Urban Social Health Activist (USHA) at each urban centre. One USHA will be appointed for a population of 1,500 and initially anganwadi workers will be roped in as USHAs, says Sabne. There are 996 anganwadis in the city and we will train these workers, she added.

As a beginning though the PMC has shifted some of the staff at its hospitals to far flung areas and start Out Patient Departments. According to Sabne OPDs have been started at Mohammedwadi, Vishrantwadi, Kalas and Dias Plot slum areas. Staff from Kamala Nehru hospital have been shifted for the purpose.

Dr Ashok Ladda, joint director, State Family Welfare Bureau who has additional charge of the NUHM said that while the budget for the programme has to be announced , copies of guidelines have been distributed to corporations. The main focus is the provide primary health care to the people in urban areas. “Hence we are asking the corporations to map the cities and identify the population that requires such services so that urban health posts can be created. People staying at construction sites and unauthorised slum areas will also be included in the programme,” he said.

Source – ExpressIndia

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