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Pradeep Singh

Last year, in August, while launching the smart health card under the Biju Swasthya Kalyaan Yojana (BSKY), Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said that families would be able to avail treatment up to Rs 5 lakh per annum. It was like an injection of hope for the people of a State where healthcare services often hit headlines for all wrong reasons. However, the smart card seems to have failed to serve the purpose.

Has the much-hyped and ambitious scheme of the Odisha government gone haywire? The cases and the allegations of Kabuli Sahoo of Brahmagiri and Gyanab Swain of Balasore, somewhere stand testament to the same.

Unable to bear the medical expenses, Kabuli Sahoo has been suffering from backbone-related ailment for the last five years. Though after getting the health card, he reached out to a private hospital in Bhubaneswar for treatment, he had to return empty-handed.

"They didn't accept my health card. I went to the Capital city with the hope of getting treatment by showing the State government's health card, but the card proved useless for me," alleged Sahoo.

Gyanab Swain is suffering from Appendicitis but he too has the same problem. "We didn't have money for operation but after getting the health card when we reached out to a private hospital, a sir (a doctor) there told us 'the card won't work and it has been falsely printed'," he alleged.

Another elderly patient, who has been admitted to the Hi-Tech Medical College & Hospital in Rourkela for treatment after sustaining serious backbone injuries in a bull attack, shared similar problems. 

"Though we submitted the health card to get the benefits, the hospital authorities said that only Rs 15000 can be relaxed by using the card and the rest amount needs to be paid in cash," alleged an attendant of the patient.

In another instance of alleged callousness towards health services in the State, one Gayatri College of Nursing in Baripada with which the State government has signed agreement for treatment of those bearing the health card, is reportedly shut for the last several days.

"I went to the hospital today with my family for treatment, but it was shut. When I contacted the hospital authorities, they said the hospital has no doctors and staff and hence, it remains closed," said a local, Tapan Kumar Pati.

Responding to the allegation, Mayurbhanj collector Vineet Bhardwaj said, "We will look into the issue. We are going to visit all the hospitals today. In case of any issue, we will resolve it."

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