In the countryside, a healthy dose of funds | india | Hindustan Times
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In the countryside, a healthy dose of funds

Under the UPA, public health allocation more than doubled to Rs 51,124 crore from the Rs 24,162 crore under the NDA, and it shows, writes Sanchita Sharma.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2009 22:39 IST
Sanchita Sharma

The Primary Health Centre at Khed-Sirapur village in Pune district has incubators for newborns, a dedicated delivery room and an air-conditioned operation theatre with a pulse-oxygen metre. Doctors treat 100 patients a day now, up from 30 in 2006.

Like most other PHCs, the Khed-Sirapur PHC functioned out of three rooms and an OT partitioned off with a curtain until it received National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) funding in 2006, in this case Rs 1.75 lakh a year for upgradation and maintenance. Now, it looks smarter and is one of the 8,756 of the country’s 22,669 PHCs open 24x7.

Under the UPA, public health allocation more than doubled to Rs 51,124 crore from the Rs 24,162 crore under the NDA, and it shows. With an outlay of Rs 89,478 crore under the 11th Plan, NRHM is positioned to change healthcare delivery in rural India. Again, by allocating Rs 12,070 crore to NRHM, the UPA underlined its commitment to rural health.

“What works in favour of NRHM is the flexible financing, which allows need-based use of the allocated funds. Appointing doctors on contract has worked in some states, but there are huge gaps and these should be filled with new schemes, such as getting doctors to travel from district hospitals to PHCs twice a week,” said Dr K Srinath Reddy, director general, Public Health Foundation of India.

The health budget needs to rise further. “Beyond treating gastroenteritis and doing simple surgeries, healthcare capacity in districts remains low; money has to be injected. Giving universal health insurance of Rs 30,000 to BPL families is not enough. At least Rs 1 lakh is needed for any major surgery,” says Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman, Global Health Private Ltd.