On the directions of Governor N. N. Vohra, Chairman Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, free medical treatment is being provided to all pilgrims, who fall sick or suffer accidents and, besides, to the poor, needy and certain other specified categories of patients at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Superspeciality Hospital Kakryal. The cost of all such medical care is borne by the Shrine Board under its Medical Support Policy.In a review meeting held today Mr. Dheeraj Gupta, CEO of the Shrine Board, informed that 1,026 pilgrims, land owners of the four surrounding villages of Sira, Kakryal, Kotla and Sool, who had given their lands for the establishment of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University and the Hospital and, besides, all those covered under the gratuitous relief scheme of the Board, were provided free medical treatment amounting to Rs. 3.11 crore at the Superspeciality Hospital Kakryal during April 2016-May 2018.Giving details, CEO informed that of the 1,026 beneficiaries, 357 were pilgrims who were provided free indoor treatment at an expenditure of Rs. 1.61 crore which was borne by the Shrine Board.It is pertinent to mention that prior to the establishment of the Shrine Board’s Super Speciality Hospital pilgrims who met with an accident or fell ill had to be referred to the Government Medical College, Jammu, on the recommendation of Block Medical Officer, CHC, Katra. After the setting up of Superspeciality Hospital, Kakryal, by the Shrine Board, which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India in April 2016, all pilgrims falling ill or sustaining injuries during their pilgrimage are now being transported in the Board’s ambulances to the SSH Kakryal for treatment till their condition stabilizes. In some cases pilgrims requiring urgent medical attention are airlifted to SSH at the Board’s expense. Due to the ready availability of superspeciality care at SSH the lives of many pilgrims have been saved which would not have been possible earlier.In the past two years ending May 2018, the Shrine Board also provided financial assistance of Rs. 1.46 crore to 165 poor and needy patients under its Arogya Yojna, a scheme for providing free treatment to poor patients. In 504 cases the families of land owners of the four surrounding villages of Sira, Kakryal, Kotla and Sool, whose lands were acquired for the establishment of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University and the Hospital, were provided free OPD services valuing Rs. 4.41 lakh.9 congenitally deaf children were given hearing after they underwent surgeries at the SSH Kakryal in the past 3 months. The Shrine Board paid over Rs 50 lakh for the implants provided to these children.