Bihar is set to become the first state in the country to issue health cards to 3.4 crore children in the age group of 0-14 years. Besides offering OPD facilities and free medicines, the health card, which will be vaild for five years, will also facilitate specialised medical treatment in premier hospitals like AIIMS, PGIMER Chandigarh and SGPGI Lucknow. According to WHO, 55 per cent of Indian children suffer from malnutrition-related diseases before attaining the age of three years. The percentage is higher in Bihar. The scheme seeks to bridge the gap in the ratio between the two sexes by encouraging the birth of baby girl. On the birth of two baby girls in BPL families, a sum of Rs 2,000 each is invested through Children Career Plan of UTI Mutual Fund. The maturity amount is paid to the girl when she attains the age of 18 years. While some states already have health card schemes for school-going children in the age group of 6-14 years, Bihar is the first to include those less than six years old.
The scheme— Nayi Pidhi Swasthya Guarantee Yojana — will also include adolescent girls below 18 years to focus on malnutrition. While medical camps will be organised every year — for which the government has earmarked an annual budget of Rs 125 crore, the health cards will enable parents to seek follow-up treatment for their children at PHCs or block hospitals. Moreover, serious medical complications will be referred to the country’s premier institutes, with the government bearing the expenses. The health card will have full data including weight, height, ENT and dental records. Skin disease tests will be mandatory.