NHM fund utilisation poor in Karnataka: Health minister

B Sriramulu. (DH photo)

The state has failed to use funds provided by the Union government under the National Health Mission satisfactorily, Minister for Health and Family Welfare B Sriramulu said on Monday.

The minister, who held a review meeting with the officials of the department, said the state lacked an action plan due to which, the funds sanctioned under NHM have not been utilised. He also directed that all districts utilise at least 90% funds given to them by December. “Even as Ayushman Bharat and Arogya Karnataka have been implemented, the poor are not satisfied. There is a need to bridge this gap,” he said.

Sriramulu said that be it under NHRM, NHM or NUHM, a lot of money has remained unspent. “The department is unable to utilise the funds given to them. If this is the case, how will you ask for funds the following year?” he said.

Blaming poor planning, he said that several hospitals were even unaware of the procedure to purchase drugs with the funds given to them.

During the meeting, the minister also spoke about the Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Karnataka (AB-ArK) scheme, in which the referral system is relaxed. Currently, patients can avail treatment at private hospitals only when referred by a government hospital.

“Private hospitals are refusing to treat patients without a referral from government hospitals. Poor patients travel from various districts to Bengaluru, only to be denied facilities. They spend a lot on travel,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jawaid Akhter, principal secretary, Health and Family Welfare department, mentioned that there are 169 emergency treatment procedures that do not require any referral letter (from government hospitals) to be treated in private hospitals. About 77.1 lakh cards have been issued under the scheme since its inception.

The government will hold talks with private hospitals to prioritise scheme patients and if directions are not followed, action would be taken under KPME Act, he warned.

He directed all district health officers to identify five PHCs in their districts to be converted into model hospitals. These hospitals will be granted incentives of Rs 3 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh.

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