September 12, 2013
Shishu Sathi Scheme : A project close to Chief Minister`s Heart
A four year old girl was the first beneficiary of the State Government`s `Shishu Sathi Scheme`, a brain child of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She had promise to provide free treatment to children who need heart surgeries, irrespective of how rich or poor the parents are.
Four other children with cardiac complications have been operated upon so far. The cost normally is around Rs 2 lakh at the hospital. Under the State Government`s `Shishu Sathi Scheme`, the hospital charge about Rs 90,000. The government bears the entire amount.
In a major boost to child health care in West Bengal, the State Government has joined hands with three private hospitals and government hospitals to provide free paediatric cardiac surgery to 3,000 children each year under the initiative named `Shishu Saathi` or `Friends for Children` that flagged off on Aug 21 this year.
The Bengal Government had taken the initiative to conduct medical tests under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, in state-run schools, with a logical conclusion to provide treatment. The State also decided to bear all expenses for the treatments of any student needing surgery for cardiac ailments.
After screening at various schools in the 341 blocks of Bengal 8000 cases were detected that required cardiac surgery. A target has been set to have all these cases operated this year itself.
The government has tied up with three private hospitals – BM Birla Heart Research Centre and RN Tagore Institute of Cardiac Sciences in Kolkata and Mission Hospital in Durgapur – for the free-surgery scheme. Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital, B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children and R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital are some of the government hospitals that have cutting-edge facilities for paediatric care.
Surgeries for ailments like congenital cataract, cleft lips and cleft palates would soon be brought under the Shishu Sathi Scheme.
The project is extremely close to the Chief Minister`s heart.
Highlights of the Shishu Sathi Scheme:
- State Govt. conducts health tests in government schools to detect heart ailments
- State Govt. provides free cardiac surgery for children up to 12 years suffering from heart ailments
- All children are eligible irrespective of family income
- All expenses are borne by the State Government