Punjab News Express/Newsvoir
CHANDIGARH: Punjab government’s novel initiative to provide free treatment to patients suffering from Hepatitis C has so far benefitted more than 18,000 patients in state within months of launch. Punjab government had created a special fund with an initial corpus of Rs. 20 crore called the ‘MukhMantri Punjab Hepatitis C Relief Fund’ for this purpose.
Under this scheme medical specialists have been trained by the experts of PGIMER Chandigarh to offer free treatment of Hepatitis C. More than 18,000 patients of Hepatitis C have been initiated on the treatment and close to 10,000 cases have already completed the treatment.
Punjab is the first state in the country to provide free treatment to confirmed cases of Hepatitis C. The treatment of Hepatitis-C is now available at 25 Centres (3 Govt Medical Colleges and 22 District Hospitals) in the State.
Talking about state government’s initiatives on healthcare, Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal said, “We firmly believe that access to quality healthcare is every citizen’s right. The state government is fully committed to provide the best health care services to the people at affordable costs. We hope that this initiative will go a long way to alleviate the woes of people suffering from Hepatitis C.”
With a prevalence rate that could be as high as 3 per cent, there might be up to 10 lakh cases of suspected Hepatitis C. The treatment for Hepatitis C consists of injectable peg-interferon, which is very expensive. This unique initiative has especially come as a blessing for people from economically weaker strata of society.
It is noteworthy that Punjab is also the only state in the country, which is providing free treatment to the cancer patients. Excellent infrastructure to combat the menace of cancer has already been put in place by setting up Advanced Cancer Treatment Centres in the Government Medical Colleges in Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot. Besides, hi-tech cancer institute at Bathinda and PGI Satellite Hospital at Sangrur are providing the best treatment to the patients inflicted with deadly disease.
Punjab also launched Bhagat Puran Singh Health Insurance scheme covering nearly half of state’s population. It provides cashless treatment covering a cross section of the society including blue cardholders, farmers, traders and construction workers up to Rs..50,000 besides insurance cover of Rs. Five lac in case of death or incapacitation of head of the family.
Also, in a major step towards ensuring social security, the Punjab Government has set up 2000 free medicine centres to provide free-of-cost medicines. Out of which 660 centres also provide free medical testing facilities to all patients.