Arogyasri: Tooin, tooin trump card

Hyderabad: Y S Rajasekhara Reddy has been speaking in ambulance language at his early campaign meetings in Rangareddy and Medak this week. “Okka phone cheste, padihenu nimishalalo 108 ambulanculu mee intiki vastayee, tooin, tooin, tooin, tooin, tooin.” The crowd understands.

An urbanite – you and I — can be pardoned for thinking that the poor don’t need ambulances for why would they want to be borne to a five-star hospital which they cannot afford anyway. It might surprise us that among the more popular of YSR’s doings are the busy blue ambulances.

For these ambulances have brought corporate health care within the access of the poor. The scheme is called Arogyasree. The chief minister claims it is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

“I am told that Dr P C Reddy of Apollo Hospitals has said that US president Barack Obama’s assurance to Americans of a healthcare package was in fact already in existence in AP,” he said at his press conference before launching his Jaitra Yatra “s is a great feeling.”

He says the World Health Organisation has asked the state government for a presentation on the programme.

Under Rajiv Aarogyasri, its full name, specialised treatment is provided free of cost for six types of serious ailments: cancer, cardiac, neuro, and renal ailments and burns and accidents. Since its inception in April 2007, one lakh operations have been conducted and nearly 11 lakh patients screened.“Earlier, the poor would not dare step into corporate hospitals, but they are now thronging the corridors of these same hospitals now,” says the chief minister.

One such person was 11-year-old Srivani, daughter of an auto driver from Konkuduru village in Bikkuvolu mandal in Kakinada. She had a hole in her heart. After 11 years of pain and anguish, her father Rajendra Prasad took her to Medwin Hospital in Hyderabad under the Arogyasri programme and the girl was operated at the government’s cost.

“I never dreamed that I will be able to get treatment in such a big hospital,” says 50-year-old Ramalakshmamma of Anantapur district who underwent cardiac surgery at another corporate hospital in Hyderabad. “The surgery would have cost me Rs 95,000.

Arogyasree is the flagship of all the health initiatives of the government, which include the 108 ambulances and Little Hearts initiative for children with genetic heart ailments. Patients referred to any network hospital get free of cost consultation, diagnostics, specialist services, medicines, implants and grafts, food, cost of transportation charges and hospitalisation charges. The bedrock of this scheme is the insurance cover up to Rs 2 lakh.

Critics may carp but Arogyasri may be the surprise trump card for YS Rajasekhara Reddy in this election. Sitting on the steps of a shop at the main intersection in Vikarabad, Gotti Kanakaiah says, “Andaru leaderlu antaru, me midi chestamu, adi chestamu ani. Electionla taravata kanapadaru. Evariki votestano naake telavadu.

There is a long pause as he drags on his Bristol. He looks away, his face impassive. And then, he says, “Emo, aa ambulanculu aite vastai. Phone cheyyangane vastai.”

1 comment to Arogyasri: Tooin, tooin trump card

  • whether it is a government of congress or some other party, if the scheme implemented by the government is reaching to the poor then we all have to appreciate it. Arogyasree is a program of that type. Hope it works well without giving much trouble for the poor in the form of bribing to the ambulance drivers etc., etc., .. If everyone has the heart to help those poor and needed, definitely it is a good program.

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