10 health projects didn't take off; Rs 1k cr remain locked

At least 10 key projects of the Union health ministry didn’t take off in the last two years despite having budgetary approval, whereas more than Rs 1,000 crore meant for buying new equipment for new hospitals remains locked since 2013.

Among those stalled schemes are setting up of an integrated vaccine complex at Chengalpattu, national mental health programme and a healthcare scheme for the elderly.

Establishment of new medical colleges, strengthening of existing government medical colleges and boosting the state drug regulatory system for the benefits of the patients were also stuck.

All these were among the 12th five year plan projects that are yet to take off after three years and necessary financial approval.

In addition, more than Rs 1,050 crore meant for purchasing the equipment for the six new All India Institutes of Medical Institutes and other institutions of higher learning under the health ministry remains locked.

The new AIIMS are being set up Bhubaneswar, Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Jodhpur, Rishikesh. While bulk of the construction work was completed in these tertiary care institutes, the government has sanctioned four more AIIMS in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. The financial mess is largely due to non-serious attitude of the officials, suggested a section of the Parliamentarians who reviewed the ministry’s budgetary plans.

Stalling of 10 important health schemes, found the law makers, is another disquieting matter because though substantial allocation made on these projects, they suffered a set back at the take-off stage itself. Their fate remained same in two consecutive years – 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Ministry officials blamed the state government and lack of coordination with other ministries in realising these schemes. For instance, the scheme to improve the state drug regulatory system is yet to be accorded all clearance by other ministries of the government whereas the national programme for healthcare of the elderly did not take off due to lack of enthusiasm from the state governments.

Last year’s department of health and family welfare’s budget was slashed by about Rs 6000 crore, attracting criticism from several quarters. This time, sources said, there was no major reduction in the health budget.

The health ministry now proposed to have two lists of schemes – (1) essential activities that must be protected from budget cuts and (2) desirable activities where funds can be increased if resources are available. The Finance Ministry, however, is yet to give a positive response on the plan.
DH News Service

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