Chief Minister, Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu today, launched the ‘Himcare scheme’ for jail inmates, by providing Himcare cards to the prisoners at Model Central Jail Kanda in Shimla district.
He also presided over the launch of the Integrated STI, HIV, TB, Hepatitis (ISHTH) campaign in prisons and other closed settings at Kanda Jail.
The Chief Minister said that registration of inmates under the scheme has been initiated and 100 percent target would be achieved shortly. He said that the State Government would cover the cost of premiums for inmates in prisons. Additionally, plans were underway to introduce a scheme aimed at educating the children residing in Bal Sudhar Grih of the State, he added.
The Chief Minister emphasized that the state government was striving to reach out to every citizen, especially those in the most vulnerable conditions. The state government has given legal backing to the Mukhya Mantri Sukh Aashray Scheme, which provides comprehensive support to orphaned children up to 27 years of age. This includes covering their education and hostel expenses, providing them with a pocket allowance of Rs 4,000, and offering financial assistance to construct homes.
Sh. Sukhu said that the present State Government was working with compassion and the government observed that the jail inmates were deprived of the benefits of the Himcare scheme and they had to face a paucity of funds for treatment during their illness. That is the reason the State Government decided to bring the jail inmates under the ambit of this scheme, he added.
The Chief Minister said that the integrated campaign ISHTH aimed to screen and treat 3218 inmates of 14 jails in the State and 1278 inmates of Juvenile Homes, Nari Niketan and Drug Rehabilitation Centres across the State by 14th June 2023. He said that to make the campaign successful, teams have been formed at the district level, consisting of various medical professionals like District AIDS Program Officer, ICTC, ART, Counselor, Lab Technician, Freezer Peer Mobilizer and paramedical staff. The Health Department would provide free counselling, treatment and medicines for HIV, TB, STI and Hepatitis to the jail inmates during the campaign. He emphasized that timely treatment is necessary to prevent the spread of infections in society after the release of inmates.
“The State Government was making all out efforts to eradicate these diseases and was moving forward to achieve the target of eliminating AIDS by the year 2030,” said the Chief Minister and adding that the Government was ensuring proper care of HIV-infected persons by providing them free of cost medicines at 6 antiretroviral centers besides financial assistance of Rs. 1500 per month and free bus pass facility for treatment.
The Chief Minister awarded the winners of the AIDS awareness competition organized for the jail inmates on the occasion. Rakesh Kumar stood first, Swarnajit Kaur secured second position and Hitesh Sablaik got third place.
Earlier, the Chief Minister inspected the exhibitions of the products made by the prison inmates. He garlanded the statue of ‘Father of the Nation’ Mahatma Gandhi in the jail premises and also planted a ‘Rudraksh’ sapling.
Health Minister, Dr. (Col.) Dhani Ram Shandil said that this campaign was being run in jails across the country, which will continue for a month. He said that the State Government was making continuous efforts to improve the health facilities to the prisoners. He said that Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu led State Government has been laying a special focus on the welfare of the underprivileged sections of society. Soon after taking oath as Chief Minister, Sh. Sukhu went to Tutikandi Balika Ashram and later introduced the Mukhya Mantri Sukh Aashraya Yojana for orphans, under which they were being taken care of by the government as “Children of the State”.
Appreciating the campaign, Public Works Minister, Vikramaditya Singh said that the State Government was ensuring quality healthcare to every person. He said that to bring the prisoners into the mainstream of the society and to make them responsible citizens is the need of the hour. He said that through the Department of Youth Services and Sports, momentum will be given to the awareness campaign to make the youth aware of HIV and its prevention.
Secretary Health, M. Sudha Devi welcomed the Chief Minister and detailed the salient features of the campaign. She said that the State AIDS Control Society, Jail Department, Women and Child Development Department, Social Justice and Empowerment Department, and National Health Mission are jointly organizing this campaign.
ADGP (Jail) AP Singh and other dignitaries were present on the occasion amongst others.