Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday launched the 'Mukhyamantri Vayu Swasthya Seva' (Air Health Services) under which specialist doctors will be flown to remote areas of the state to treat people suffering from serious diseases.

Patnaik flagged off a flight carrying specialist doctors to the tribal-dominated and Maoist-hit Malkangiri district. The doctors after reaching Malkangiri will treat the people suffering from certain serious diseases.

Apart from Malkangiri, the 'Mukhyamantri Vayu Swasthya Seva' will also be available in the tribal-dominated districts of Nabarangpur, Nuapada and Kalahandi in the first phase. Other districts will be covered under the programme in a phased manner, Patnaik said.

Odisha's Health and Family Welfare Minister N K Das said specialist doctors required for the treatment of critical patients admitted to various district headquarters hospitals (DHHs), will go to the remote districts to treat patients.

He said doctors from medical colleges and corporate hospitals will be flown to the remote districts through aircraft/ helicopters for prompt treatment of the patients. If required, the patients will be airlifted to various healthcare facilities in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the minister said.

So far, the minister informed that a team of doctors of the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack has been formed for this purpose. Later, doctors of MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur, VIMSAR in Burla and other private hospitals empanelled under the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) will be engaged in the service.

The service will be offered free of cost to the patients, the minister said.

He said the poor patients who were deprived of better treatment by specialists/ experts due to location disadvantage, will now avail the benefit from this initiative.

Specialist doctors of neurology, nephrology and cardiology department will be flown to the district headquarters hospitals. The follow-up treatment of the patients will be carried out through telemedicine, he said.