In Bihar,where Naxals often present obstacles before government projects involving roads,bridges and buildings,even of schools,one project has clicked remarkably well in the districts that these Naxals dominate.
It is the showpiece health card scheme for children and adolescent girls,Nayi Pidhi Swasthya Guarantee Karyakram,which the state government launched on March 22 last year. Government sources said the scheme,first of its kind in the country,has been well received in districts such as Jehanabad,Arwal,Gaya and Aurangabad,all of them Naxal strongholds.
Where it is struggling is in Kishanganj,Araria,East Champaran,Banka and Kaimur,particularly the first two,and termed by the government as difficult districts. Only 1.31 per cent children have got health cards in Araria,for instance,and only 1.81 per cent in Kishanganj.
The scheme targets 3.4 crore girls up to age 18 as of now. The health card contains every girls medical history,with the cost of any corrective treatment,if required,to be borne by the government. So far,1.5 crore children have been covered,with the first round of camps concluding last December. The next cycle is April to December,health department officials said.
For the poor show in the five districts including Kishanganj and Araria,the health department has put part of blame on only a little over 50 per cent average attendance of children in schools and on some children studying in unaided madrasas.
In contrast,Aurangabad and Arwal,where 100 per cent camps have been held,saw health cards being given to 43.07 and 41.57 per cent children respectively. These will entitle them,like all others who have received cards,to free treatment and medicines at block,district and Patna hospitals.
The new red zones of Jamui and Lakhisarai,where Naxals often call bandhs leading to schools being shut,too responded well. Jamui recorded 60.37 per cent,with 63 per cent of its planned camps held.
Asked what the state plans to do about Kishanganj and Araria,principal secretary,health,Amarjit Sinha said,We are reaching out to government-aided madrasas and convincing the minority community to get maximum coverage of children.
He added,however,that there has been no resistance as such from the minority community… It is only about reaching out to more madrasas.
The Chief Minister Nitish Kumars home district,Nalanda,topped the chart with 80.39 per cent,followed by Saran with 79.12 per cent and Patna with 76.92 per cent.
So far,the government has referred over 300 children with heart and congenital diseases to six medical colleges in Bihar. Three children with serious heart problems have been referred to AIIMS,Delhi.
According to WHO,55 per cent of Indian children suffer from malnutrition-related diseases before reaching the age of three.