NAC to sort out health funds controversy

The rift between the Union Health Ministry and Planning Commission on the allocation and contours of health programmes in the 12th plan has reached the doorsteps of Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC), which heard both sides here on Friday.

The NAC has set up a two-member internal working group comprising Mirai Chatterjee and A K Shiva Kumar who will meet officials in the Prime Minister's Office, Health Ministry and the plan panel to work out a middle path agreeable to both within a month, NAC sources told Deccan Herald. The truce formula will be discussed in the next NAC meeting on September 28.  

The allocations for health, role of private doctors, fate of the proposed urban health mission as well as an omnibus national health mission are some of the contentious areas. The ministry wants a health budget of 2.5 per cent of GDP, while the commission in its draft chapter on health proposed a budget of only 1.58 per cent of GDP.

While making a presentation, Union Health Secretary P K Pradhan said that the ministry wanted an increase in the health budget up to 2.5 per cent of GDP, providing 75 per cent of budget to primary health care and providing essential medicines free at government health care outlets.

These proposals were recommended by the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) on health set up by the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India. Reddy had earlier briefed the NAC on HLEG recommendations.

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