Kerala’s Public Health System Wins Laurels, 43.4 Lakh Get Free Treatment
Veena George, the minister for health and family welfare of the government of Kerala received the best-performing state award from Mansukh Mandaviya, the union health minister (Courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/veenageorgeofficial)
Kerala has added two more laurels in the public health sector in the last couple of weeks. In the recently held ‘Arogya Manthan 2002’ event, Kerala was awarded as one of the best performing states in providing free medical treatments. The state has treated 43.4 lakh beneficiaries at a cost of Rs 1,636 crore, accounting for 15% of the total free treatment provided across the country.
With nine more hospitals receiving National Quality Assurance Standards (NQAS) accreditation and re-accreditations, the state now has 148 government hospitals with such accreditation, illustrating the people-centric services provided.
While most state and union governments are making attempts to withdraw from public health, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has been successfully strengthening the sector with effective interventions.
The success of the Kerala Model of developing a vibrant and decentralised public health system has shot the state to fame on different occasions, the fight against Nipah and COVID-19 pandemic being the most recognised ones.
FREE TREATMENT UNDER KASP
The award for providing 43.4 lakh free medical treatment to the beneficiaries was presented to Kerala at the event held in Delhi commemorating the 4th anniversary of the Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).
The Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted, “Kerala's Public health soars to new heights as we won the award at #ArogyaManthan2022 for providing the highest number of free medical treatments. So far, through Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhathi (KASP), Kerala has spent ₹1636.07 CR for the treatment of 43.4 lakh beneficiaries”.
Veena George, the minister for health and family welfare in a statement said that the medical colleges in Kottayam and Kozhikode provide maximum free treatments. The scheme in Kerala benefits 180 patients every hour.
The government of Kerala implements the KASP directly through the State Health Agency (SHA) to provide free treatment for around 42 lakh poor and vulnerable families to benefit 64 lakh people.
“The government of Kerala launched the KASP from July 1, 2020, to extend free and cashless treatment to the beneficiaries in both empanelled private and government hospitals”, said Dr K P Jameela, member of the Kerala State Planning Board to NewsClick.
The government provides health cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation. The scheme is extended through 200 government and 544 private hospitals.
‘POLITICAL WILL BRINGING SUCCESS’
The award is not the first for the health sector in Kerala, as several previous records spoke for themselves on the robust and efficient health infrastructure of the state. The decentralised planning and role of local self-governments (LSG) play an important role in extending healthcare to the needy.
“The political will of the LDF government, the decentralisation of planning and continuous monitoring of infrastructure development and fund flow have strengthened the public health system in the state,” Dr Jameela said.
The three-tier LSG are entrusted with the task of monitoring the health system on a day-to-day basis. “The village panchayats have Family Health Centres (FHC), formerly Primary Health Centres (PHC), the block panchayats have one or more Community Health Centres (CHC), the taluks have Taluk Hospitals and the districts have general hospitals and medical colleges,” Dr Jameela added.
The state government has created ward-level committees to ensure the maintenance of basic parameters including food and sanitation in all hospitals beginning with the FHCs and sub-centres.
“The fund allocations from government’s plan fund, National Health Mission (NHM), local area development funds of peoples representatives, LSG and CSR funds are utilised to achieve the goals of the government in providing comprehensive healthcare for the poor and needy,” Dr Jameela said.
‘STANDARDISED SYSTEM BRINGS ACCREDITATIONS’
On September 17, nine more government hospitals received NQAS accreditations, taking the total number to 148. The ‘Ardram Mission’ launched as part of the Nava Kerala Mission has been crucial in transforming the health sector into a people-friendly standardisation of services.
“The process of obtaining accreditation has become an easy process for all levels of healthcare institutions since the infrastructure and human resources are available. We have embedded the capacity building and training into the system helping achieve things,” Dr Jameela said.
The health department has a dedicated workforce of experts to ensure the prescribed system is put in place and followed, helping in achieving nationally acclaimed accreditations.
With Kerala ranking high on most healthcare indices, the government is shifting focus towards containing non-communicable diseases. “We are now planning to control and prevent different prevailing non-communicable diseases,” Dr Jameela added.
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