When 13 people on an average lose life every day in road accidents in Punjab and many more get injured, here is hope for many such injured and other emergency cases. The Punjab government will provide free health care for the first 24 hours of hospitalisation to all patients coming for emergency treatment to government hospitals from this week.
According to sources in the health department, the government will provide free health care service, including surgical items and medicines available in hospitals, for the first 24 hours of hospitalisation.
Health secretary Hussan Lal said the free service will include all kinds of medicines, diagnostic services, including CT scan, ultrasound and X-ray, and blood and urine examinations. He said that earlier only generic medicines were available for free in the state's government hospitals. Now, a list of medicines required in emergency is being prepared which would be provided to the patients, he added.
The service is being seen as a big relief, especially for the road accident cases which are being reported in large numbers in the state. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2014, a total of 4,621 deaths were reported in Punjab due to road accidents. And a total of 6,391 accidents were reported in the year.
Some hospitals controlled by the Centre already provide this service to the patients. Chandigarh's Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has already been told by the union health ministry to provide 100% free treatment to emergency patients for the first 48 hours of hospitalisation.
A recent study carried out by the PGI had found that high amounts spent on treatment from their pockets following injury are breaking the back of the patients who are getting treatment at the PGI emergency.
It was found that 30% patients were those for whom bearing the treatment cost was beyond their means. It came as a catastrophic expenditure to them. The catastrophic expenditure is that which exceeds 30% of the patient's annual household income and in which money is borrowed or selling of assets is used to get the treatment.
Total deaths in road accidents in Punjab: 4,621
Total road accidents: 6,391
(Source: Recent NCRB report)