SBI steps in for ‘Hrudaya Suraksha’
By Neelima Shankar
Aug 26, 2008
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On August 20th, the country's largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI) came forward to lend a helping hand to fund the cardiac treatment of poor patients by launching a new loan product, ‘SBI Hrudaya Suraksha Scheme'.

Noble-laureate for peace and founder of Grameen bank of Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus, launched this novel scheme.

The product is aimed at supporting poor patients in need of urgent cardiac intervention at the Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore.

Speaking on the occasion, SBI Chairman O P Bhatt said, the first of its kind bank product would help the patients belonging to Below Poverty Line(BPL) families. Terming the heart care loan as revolutionary, Bhat said it was ironical that while the banks extended loans to buy a house, a car or even a fridge, but there was no scheme to save a life. If this pilot project proves a success, the scheme would be extended to Jaipur, Jamshedpur, Kolkata and Ahmedabad as well, Mr Bhatt added.

The bank is expected to come out with many more complex products in association with Narayana Hrudayalaya in the future as well.

The chief general manager, SBI, Bangalore, Mahpara Ali, said that this loan product will make the cardiac treatment more affordable to the poor. Under the scheme, the loan amount (Rs.50,000) would meet about 80 percent of the total cost (Rs.65,000) for a heart surgery of poor cardiac patients to be identified and subsidised by the hospital.

The Narayana Hrudayalaya founder Devi Shetty said "The borrower will have to repay the loan in six months. The hospital will bear the interest amount for the first three months after the surgery. Later, the loan amount will have to be repaid at an interest rate of 8.5 per cent. Though no collateral security is required, the loan is sanctioned in joint names with the patient and his/her spouse or kin as co-borrower."

In case of children, the loan facility can be availed by parents

"We need to bring in innovative schemes and investments to shore up healthcare cover in the country. Healthcare, especially heartcare, needs huge investments. The present demand is 25 lakh heart procedures a year, but only 80,000 procedures are carried out across various hospitals." added Shetty

Lauding SBI and Shetty for jointly launching such a unique product, Yunus hoped Narayana Hrudayalaya would launch a similar scheme in Bangladesh in association with Grameen Bank.

"Banks have lot of power to bring about a sea-change in everyone's life. Their services can be extended beyond business and commercial activity to various facets of life such as health insurance," Yunus noted.

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