Friday, March 07, 2008

Poor in 429 cities to benefit from health mission

Kounteya Sinha,Times of India, Times News Network

NEW DELHI: A National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), which will monitor and improve the health of 22 crore people living in urban slums in 429 cities and towns, will be launched in May. The health ministry on Tuesday submitted the project's final proposal to the finance ministry and sought Rs 8,000 crore for the mission during the 11th Plan.

Designed on the lines of UPA's flagship National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) which provides healthcare to the most backward villages, NUHM is aimed at providing accessible, affordable, effective and reliable primary healthcare facilities, especially to the poor and homeless urban population.Health ministry sources said the project had already received an in-principle approval from the Planning Commission.

NRHM's unutilized funds will also go into executing the NUHM. Union health minister A Ramadoss told TOI that the "programme will start a unique insurance medical scheme under which 5.5 crore of the 22 crore people will get an insurance cover of Rs 40,000-50,000 for basic medical care and outpatient facilities in both private and government hospitals. The premium will be paid by the government."

For the remaining population, the government will pay the first instalment of Rs 600 per person a year. The insurance money will go directly to government hospitals, which could use it for improving infrastructure and health facilities. "Those not covered by the insurance policy can avail of it by paying a yearly premium of Rs 600 and get the same medical facilities," Ramadoss said.

According to the minister, the proposal, which is presently with the finance ministry, would soon go for cabinet clearance. "The mission aims to address the primary health needs of those living in slums in cities and towns with a population of one lakh and above and district headquarters irrespective of their numbers.

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