Weeks after slamming the state government for not following WHO protocol for Covid-19 testing, Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan on Wednesday appreciated Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao for considering on suggestions given by her but also underscored by saying, "we still have a long way to go".
Soundararajan, who has completed a year in office, interacted with the local media and said that the state government has rectified its course of action and mobilised more resources on the ground. "Earlier, only one hospital was declared as dedicated Covid-19 hospital but after several rounds of discussions, the state government paid heed to my suggestions and set-up better facilities like mobile testing vans, district-level Covid-19 hospitals to handle the crisis," she said.
While hailing Chief Minister Rao for "boldly" facing the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, she highlighted that the measures that are being taken now should have been proactively taken during the first phase of nationwide lockdown imposed in a bid to break the chain of transmission. "As a physician-turned-politician, I believe we would have been in a better place had we not lagged behind in testing, tracking and treating Covid-19 patients initially. But the practical difficulties that the state government faced back have now been reversed. We are picking up now but our state should improve in healthcare, education and tribal affairs", she opined.
Highlighting the increase in cases of hospitals refusing insurance schemes and only pressuring patients for cashless transactions, the Governor urged the Telangana government to implement Ayushman Bharat, Centre's flagship health insurance scheme, as it will benefit the poor and vulnerable people. "In the face of the pandemic, a scheme like Ayushman Bharat will provide better and wider coverage to underprivileged families. Chief Minister Rao has assured me that in due course of time they will consider implementing it."
However, while addressing the Telangana Assembly on Wednesday, the Chief Minister underlined the state government is doing its best to handle the Covid-19 pandemic. He has formed a task force to monitor treatment given to Covid-19 patients in private hospitals and stressed on expanding the reach of 'Aarogyasri', state's free healthcare scheme. "We are considering a proposal to include Covid-19 treatment in the Aarogyasri scheme, which has more coverage than Ayushman Bharat."
In Telangana, 'Aarogyasri' provides financial protection to families living below the poverty line. So far, 949 treatments are being covered under the scheme, according to the official website.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has already included Covid-19 treatment under the ambit of Dr YSR Aarogyasri scheme, administering free treatment to patients with an annual income of upto Rs 5 lakh. The facility also covers empanelled private hospitals in the state.