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'Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana' needs improvement

B K Jha, Special Correspondent, INCLUSION

Gauri Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, at 37th Skoch Summit in New Delhi.

To achieve the goals of India 2.0, the government has implemented many welfare schemes for social inclusion with focus on improving ongoing schemes such as Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) to make them holistic, a senior government official has said.

Addressing a conference on ‘Social Inclusion’ held as part of the 37th Skoch Summit here, Gauri Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, underlined the importance of health sector reforms and said RSBY has emerged as boon to the weaker section. “However, feedbacks from some quarters suggest that the scheme needs some improvement immediately.”

For social inclusion, the RSBY has emerged as one of most effective tools, she said, adding that in health sector, second phase of reforms will kick off soon with the implementation of national health policy.

The draft policy is ready and after feedback and suggestions from an expert group, it would be rolled out soon.

The government has set up a National Health Policy Group to recommend vital aspects and components to be added to the policy. With feedback from all stakeholders and the Group, the proposed policy aims at improving healthcare services to accelerate the process of social inclusion.

“The Ministry of Labour and Employment has launched the RSBY which provides much needed healthcare support to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and it is an excellent scheme with focus on inclusion. Moreover, the scheme is being monitored strictly with key performance indicators on regular basis to avoid irregularities and lapses,” Kumar said.

Under the scheme, the Centre bears 75 per cent of the premium and the state shoulders the remaining 25 per cent, a BPL family of five members or less can be registered against a yearly payment of Rs 30. Each family gets a medical coverage of Rs 30,000 a year.

Kumar’s comments came when a few senior district level officials highlighted the ground realities and basic hurdles while implementing the scheme.

Deputy Commissioner Dhanbad, Jharkhand, Prashant Kumar highlighted ground level difficulties in implementing the RSBY in two districts of the state - Dhanbad and earlier a tribal dominated district Dumka. He said lack of adequate data and non-availability of medicines and diagnostic facilities along with absenteeism of doctors are main concerns.

The number of private hospitals in these areas is less and the government healthcare centres are not able to cope with the pressure under such circumstances.

The secretary assured that the government will certainly address these problems in the next phase of reforms. She said, “The RSBY needs some improvement and very soon we will do away with anomalies to make the scheme effective and inclusive.”

The experts and senior officials observed that without reforming health and education system, social inclusion would not be possible. These two sectors should be our prime concern for inclusive growth, they said.

According to them, social inclusion must be driven by technologies and social equalisation has to be an integral part of this movement.

KP Bakshi, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Maharasthra, said all states face resource crunch and raising money for several social schemes is a challenge. Technologies especially ICT have helped in cost reduction and transparency.

“Exclusion is the main problem. Women and children, Schedule Tribes and other groups have been excluded from several schemes,” said MK Tyagi, Principal Advisor to Madhya Pradesh Government.

Social inclusion would not be achieved if we do not do geographical inclusion covering all areas, he added.

(B K Jha can be reached at braj@skoch.in)

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