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Only 13.8% of health smart card holders 'benefit' from Odisha flagship programme

By Our Representative 

Inclusion of eligible beneficiaries and awareness of the scheme, especially among rural communities, will bolster the Odisha government’s Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY), which aims to provide universal health coverage with special emphasis on the health protection of economically vulnerable families, an online study report titled “Implementation of BSKY Scheme in Odisha” has said.
Released by the NGO Atmashakti Trust and its allies Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha, the study was conducted between July and August 2022, covering 12 districts (Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Nayagarh, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Bolangir, Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, and Mayurbhanj), where there is a predominant population of tribals Dalits and other marginalized communities.
The study collected responses from 20,128 people who are either the beneficiary of the BSKY scheme or those who have been left out for some reason.
Its findings reveal that only 13.8% (2,787) of the BSKY card holders have received health services. Of the 20,128 respondents, who participated in the survey, 9.5%(1907) said that their cards are still lying at the Gram Panchayat (GP) office.
About 7% (1,401) respondents said that they do not have any information on where to go to receive the card and who will issue the card to them. And, 3.5% (710) respondents alleged that local authorities forced them to pay a bribe to get the BSKY card.
Respondents highlighted several reasons for lack of access to health services under the BSKY scheme, such as the lack of awareness, lack of timely service, hospitals not extending services, not having time to take the opportunity, and not knowing how to use it.
The report reveals that of the families which have BSKY cards, 24.2% are facing issues in availing of the services.
It says, 33.3% of the respondents said that they are not able to avail benefits under the scheme on time, whereas 11.4% complained that hospitals are not extending services even though they have a health card.
While 17.8% of respondents informed that they do not have time to avail the services due to many reasons, 37.5% of them admitted that they do not have proper information and awareness on how to use services under the scheme.
"BSKY scheme is a bold initiative as it caters to the healthcare needs of the economically vulnerable families of the state, which is praiseworthy. However, looking at the findings of the study report, the inclusion of many families in the scheme and awareness among communities of the scheme's benefits and service details will prove crucial in its effective implementation", said Ruchi Kashyap, executive trustee, Atmashakti Trust.
She insisted, "The government must focus on health infrastructure to cater to the healthcare needs of the people at the last mile."
Seeking effective implementation of the BSKY, the study report recommends that the benefit of the smart card under the BSKY scheme should be extended to the doctor's consultancy fee and medicine cost pre- and post-treatment period.
It adds, lack of awareness of the scheme's benefits and use limits the scope of service accessibility for beneficiaries. So, the government should make extensive awareness drives through materials using local languages.
According to the study report, a one-size-fit-all budgeting will not work so far as the budget for raising awareness is concerned. Therefore, a need-specific budget allocation will be helpful, especially for remote areas and the areas with hilly terrain.
In insisted, the state government should conduct a special drive on distributing the smart health cards to include left-out eligible families, adding, the government should make extensive awareness drives in local languages. It can use the cultural troupes registered with the government at block and district levels. Their artistes are paid pension.

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