Parliamentary committee slams NRHM scheme implementation

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The implementation of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) came under sharp attack from a parliamentary committee Thursday, with the health ministry being asked to carry out a 'complete re-appraisal and restructuring' of the project.

In its report on the NRHM presented to parliament, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi also lamented that the government's expenditure on public health was merely 1.1 percent of the GDP.

An 'appalled' PAC also noted that the per capita expenditure in India on public health was still worse at $7, even less than that of neighbouring Sri Lanka at $30.

'It is a joke on rural health,' Joshi said at a media interaction on the state of the NRHM scheme, which was started in April 2005 with the objective of providing 'accessible, affordable and effective' public health care facilities in rural India.

The PAC, in its report, said it was dismayed to note that health centres at various levels were being used as foodgrain godowns, community halls, local offices or cow sheds in many of the 18 states where the NRHM is being implemented.

It said the health centres also lacked necessary infrastructure, doctors, medical supplies and trained health workers.

'The committee apprehended that the goal of universal health care to all the citizens as envisaged in the mission may remain a pious platitude and a distant dream unless the budgetary outlays for the NRHM for both the terminal year of 11th plan and for the 12th plan period are scaled up significantly commensurate with the problem,' it added.

The PAC also recommended that the Department of Ayush should be converted into a full-fledged ministry and for the promotion of indigenous systems of medicine such as ayurveda, unani, siddha, naturopathy, homeopathy and yoga in rural areas.

It also emphasised the formulation of a five-year special plan for the Ayush department to encourage cultivation of herbal medicines for domestic consumption and export.

News Courtesy: sify news

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