VISAKHAPATNAM: Prisoners in Andhra Pradesh will get medical treatment in corporate hospitals on par with the general public if the government hospitals do not have the facilities or treatment for any health ailment. This is the first of its kind in the entire country.
The state government had decided to provide medical treatment under the YSR Arogyasri scheme to prisoners. It would issue Arogyasri cards to all prisoners, including convicts and remanded prisoners, regardless of offenses or sections under which they are remanded or convicted and social or financial status, to avail this facility.
The prison department sources said that CM Jagan Mohan Reddy gave a green signal to the proposal made by the Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services Mohammad Ahsan Reza, Inspector General of Prisons I Srinivasa Rao, and Additional Superintendent rank officer Raghu about providing better medical treatment to the prisoners through GO No. 683 ten days ago.
The prisoners would be considered as below poverty line (BPL) persons and would get free treatment for all the diseases listed under the Arogyasri scheme in the network hospitals.
The state has around 7000 prisoners including around 4000 convicts in 115 different category jails, including four central prisons at VizagRajahmundry, Kadapa, and Nellore, around 100 sub-jails, seven district jails, a women’s jail, and an open jail.
According to sources, Vizag and Kadapa central jails have above 1000 prisoners including convict and remand while Rajahmundry central jail has around 2000 prisoners and Nellore has 600.
A committee for each district with the government general hospital superintendent as chairman and three members – the superintendent of the prison where the prisoner is confined, the medical officer of the prison, and the district medical and health officer (DMHO) – to study the case of the prisoner in-depth and decide whether the case is genuine and the prisoner really is suffering from a life-threatening disease and requires treatment in a corporate hospital or not.
The Inspector General of Prisons I Srinivasa Rao told TOI that Prisons DG Ahsan Reza strove hard to get this facility to the prisoners. “This facility would provide free treatment to all prisoners when treatment is not available either in the prison hospitals or nearby public health facilities. Prisoners can avail treatment at the nearest network private hospitals under the Arogyasri scheme,” he said.
A digital health card will be generated by the Jail superintendents for the prisoners to avail the facility. If the prisoner possesses an Aadhar Card or white ration card, the Arogyasri digital health card would be generated from the Arogyasri portal by using the credentials of those cards. If prisoners do not have a card then the CMCO (chief minister’s camp office) referral card through the concerned district coordinator of trust would be issued.
Since the prisoners are escape-prone and are likely to create law and order problems, the hospitals may be asked to locate a prisoner’s ward in one part of the hospital or local police may provide armed guards to the hospital, sources said.