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Telegraph India
31 March 2010
Guwahati, India

Assam Ensures Right to Health Sarma: Heart of the matter
Assam today became the first state in the country to enact a legislation that seeks to ensure right to health for every citizen.

The Assam Public Health Bill, 2010, which was unanimously passed in the Assembly today, makes it mandatory for all hospitals, both government and private, including nursing homes to provide free health care services, maintaining appropriate protocol of treatment, for the first 24 hours to an emergency patient.

During the discussion of the bill, the government also announced free surgery for children with holes in their hearts.

Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the children would be flown to Bangalore where they would be operated on at the Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital and then flown back home after the treatment.

The state government will bear the entire expense of the surgery, he said.

The scheme is likely to take effect from April.

The state government will incur an expenditure of nearly Rs 2.5 lakh on the treatment of each child.

Sarma informed the House that the government has also decided to provide a one–time grant of Rs 1 lakh to patients requiring kidney transplants and make cochlear implant free for children born with hearing deficiencies.

He said from mid–April, the government would pay Rs 100 per day to patients admitted to the medical colleges and Rs 70 per day to those admitted to the civil hospitals and first referral units in the state to buy medicines that are unavailable at the hospitals.

The minister said in case of poor patients like daily wage earners and rickshaw–pullers, the government would pay a sum of money after their release from hospital to sustain themselves during the period when they are advised bedrest by the doctor.

The government will also set up 50 model hospitals in the state, which will also have parks, schools and residential quarters for doctors and staff, he said.

Since the start of the Tarun Gogoi government’s second term in 2006, it has launched various schemes with an aim to make healthcare facilities affordable for all sections of the people. Schemes like providing free cancer drugs and chemotherapy and free coronary artery bypass grafting launched by the government have won accolades from various quarters.

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