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Iraq is interested in learning India’s use of health-cards

20 Jan 2013
Iraq wants to learn from India’s accomplishment story in using the smart-card technology that delivers health insurance to the poor for reforming its public distribution system (PDS) too. The Indian Labour Department officials were invited by the World Bank to Istanbul, Turkey for sharing their expertise on smart cards used in the nationwide health scheme (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana) with the government of Iraq, which is keen to move from a universal PDS to a targeted system. Anil Swarup, who is the Additional Secretary in Labour Ministry, stated to a news source that the Government of Iraq is showing interest in learning about how the Indian government has used the smart-card technology in our RSBY scheme and how the same cards are now being used by State governments for delivering PDS without leakages. POSSIBLE DESIGN The World Bank sent a letter to Swarup and mentioned that Iraq had requested the workshop for informing and persuading parliamentarians and high-level strategy makers through brainstorming sessions on designing a possible and credible reform path. The letter also said that they would like if the Indian Government share the experience and help out Iraqi Government. The World Bank’s counterparts will be looking for the examples of completion mechanisms such as the smart card that decrease leakage and allow for greater responsibility. In this circumstance, the past and present knowledge of India will really be important. In India, while the Chattisgarh Government has already begun using the RSBY biometric card for delivering PDS in a phased manner in the State, the Kerala Government has shown a huge initiative and wants to deliver PDS using that RSBY cards across the whole State by July of this year. Swarup said that they have already had a few meetings with the State Chief Minister and his team of officials on using RSBY cards for giving out the rations to the poor at subsidized rates. They are confident that the infrastructure would be in place soon. OTHERS INTERESTED TOO It is not only Iraq, but other developing countries, like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Ghana looking for the RSBY smart-card model for delivering the subsidized goods in their countries. Swarup also said that the fact that the scheme does away with ghost-users totally and makes it so easy for tracking the transactions makes it attractive for developing countries that are loaded by leakages. India has got over 120 million beneficiaries of the UPA government’s RSBY health insurance scheme, generally belonging to the unorganized sector. The additional RSBY cars will be given to PDS users not covered by the scheme, in Kerala. Source: [The Hindu Business Line]
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