8 weeks after HC order, dept uncertain on Arogyabandhu

'Norms flouted at PHCs in PPP scheme, funds mismanaged'

8 weeks after HC order, dept uncertain on Arogyabandhu

The Department of Health and Family Welfare is still uncertain about scrapping the Arogyabandhu scheme wherein a contract was signed under the PPP (public-private partnership) with various NGOs and charitable trusts to run the public health centres (PHCs).

Hearing a petition filed by Karuna Trust in the High Court, questioning the government’s move to scrap scheme and the subsequent termination of the contract, Justice L Narayanaswamy had asked the government to reconsider its decision within four weeks.

It has been eight weeks since the HC gave the direction. But the Health department is yet to take a call on whether to continue the scheme and the contract to the Trust. P S Vastrad, Health commissioner, said that they are yet to look into the court order and decide on the Trust’s request.

“A third-party evaluation was conducted on the PHCs under the PPP model. It was found that the Trust was not running as per the agreement and had many shortcomings. Hence, we decided to terminate the contract and withdraw the scheme. A final decision will be taken shortly,” he said.

Some of the findings of the third-party report were that the PHCs were not following the guidelines and there was mismanagement of funds. The report stated that the PHCs under PPP mode were not providing quality service to patients and were compromising on their well-being.

The Trust has contended that it had entered into contracts to run 25 PHCs. The Trust had purchased land and constructed building quarters. It said that it had also purchased land to construct PHCs in Yemalur and Kammasandra. Despite the fact that the PHCs run by the Trust were given quality certification by NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare) and ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), they received a notice from the Health department, asking them to hand over 7 PHCs, as the said scheme had been discontinued. The petitioners have contended that if the government withdraws the scheme and the contract abruptly, more than 500 medical and para-medical staff in various PHCs would be on the streets and it would be detrimental to public health. The Trust argued that third-party report was not foolproof as they had not inspected all the PHCs.

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