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Free State treatment for critically ill children soon

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GUWAHATI, June 18: The Assam Government will soon launch an ambitious healthcare scheme to provide free treatment to children below the age of 14 years suffering from critical diseases.

Announcing the new healthcare scheme during a function to ceremonially lay foundation stones and bhumi puja for 19 cancer hospitals in the State held at the playground of the College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara on Monday afternoon, Health & Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the government will bear the entire cost of treatment for children who require liver transplant, kidney transplant, bone marrow transplant and costly treatment for other critical diseases. He said the new health scheme will be launched within the next three months.

Sarma said the scheme is part of the BJP-led government’s commitment to making healthcare accessible and affordable for all. He said under the recently launched Atal Amrit Abhijaan, nearly 2,900 patients from the State have so far availed of free treatment for which the State government had to spend Rs 57 crore.

Terming the foundation stones-laying ceremony for 19 cancer hospitals as a historic one, Sarma said the State government has joined hands with Tata Trusts to form the Assam Cancer Care Foundation to develop a comprehensive cancer care programme.

“Initially, a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore will be created, of which Rs 900 crore will be provided by Tata Trusts. The State government will contribute Rs 1,080 crore to the corpus. The Centre will invest Rs 180 crore in the comprehensive cancer care programme,” Sarma said.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said cancer treatment takes a heavy toll on the mental, physical and financial conditions of not only the patient but also their whole families.

“Setting up of this 19 hospital cancer care grid in the State will revolutionize the whole cancer management, and patients would be able to avail of quality treatment without going outside the State,” Sonowal said.
Sonowal said the State has come into the investment limelight of the nation and a total of Rs 79,000 crore of investment has been committed to the State as a result of “Advantage Assam: Global Investors’ Summit” held in February this year. He expressed gratitude to the Chairman of Tata Trusts Ratan Tata for fulfilling the commitment of extending cooperation in setting up 19 hospitals as part of the three-tier cancer care programme in the State. It may be mentioned that Tata Trusts commitment for setting cancer hospitals came much ahead of the Global Investors’ Summit and only inking of MoU was done during the summit.

Rajya Sabha MP and BJP national president Amit Shah, who attended the function as one of the chief guests, acknowledged the crucial role played by Tata Trusts with their philanthropic activities in bolstering the public health sector in different parts of the country for so many years. He also referred to schemes of the Central government like Ayushman Bharat which covers approximately 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization, and Mission Indradhanush which aims to immunize all children under the age of two years, as well as all pregnant women, against seven vaccine-preventable diseases.

Shah said the proposed cancer care programme will enable the underprivileged sections of society to get access to quality cancer treatment while minimizing out-of-pocket expenses.

Chairman of Tata Trusts Ratan Tata said since the north-eastern part of the country has the highest occurrence of cancer cases, Tata Trusts is committed to the cause of setting up the cancer hospital grid in the State to bring succour to the patients here. Researchers under the Trusts are working for finding cutting-edge solutions to manage cancer efficiently so that mortality due to cancer can be reduced through awareness, prevention and early detection while taking healthcare closer to the people, Tata added.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu also spoke in the programme which was attended by Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Pijush Hazarika, Chief Secretary TY Das, and Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department Sameer Kumar Sinha, among others.