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Chhattisgarh spends more on healthcare than Maharashtra

Activists say state’s per person spending is Rs996 against Rs1,671 by Chhattisgarh

mumbai Updated: Feb 16, 2018 00:05 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Jan Arogya Abhiyan cited major gaps in healthcare expenditure and delay in disbursement of funds by the Centre.   (Pic for representation/ AFP)

Targeting Maharashtra’s low per capita expenditure on public health, Right To Live, a movement by labour unions and health activists, asked the state to up the existing [2017-18] public healthcare budget from Rs12,167 crore to Rs17,917 crore in the 2018-19 fiscal.

The charter of demands came from Jan Arogya Abhiyan (JAA) an umbrella body of health activists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which is a part of the movement. The JAA said state has spent only 59% of its total budget allocated for public health expenditure.

The organisation cited major gaps in healthcare expenditure and delay in disbursement of funds by the Centre.

“Maharashtra is known as a progressive state but it spends only Rs996 per person on public health expenditure. The amount is much lower when compared to national average (Rs1,538) and even lesser developed states such as Chhattisgarh (Rs1,671) or Telangana (Rs1,801),” said Dr Abhijit More from JAA.

The people’s budget, focused on development of areas such as hiring of quality human resources, universal free and adequate medicine schemes, up gradation of rural health services and adequate funds and training for urban health posts to relieve the stress of medical services provided by tertiary are medical facilities.

“Even today, majority of vacancies in healthcare sector — doctors, nurses and paramedic staff — are filled on contractual basis. The contractual employees are paid less salaries, which in turn impacts the quality of care to patients,” Dr More added.

JAA officials said an additional Rs267 crore to be added to the budget to ensure availability of staff in each sub center, public health center and district hospitals.

Citing the current state medicine budget allocation of Rs471 crore, JAA members said that if Maharashtra wants to ensure fill availability of medicine in all public health facilities they need to copy the Rajasthan model, which spends about Rs 65 per capita on medicines. The total cost
of the scheme is quoted to be Rs728 crore.

The activists also demanded allocation of Rs400 crore to develop nutritional rehabilitation centers in rural and district hospitals. Currently there is only one center per district to attend to malnutrition and underweight children cases from that district.

“The funds can be used to provide nutritious food to malnourished children, medicine and food allowance to parents and daily wages to the parents, on lines of social security benefits provided in the United States,” said nutrition expert Vinod Shende from Right to Live.

First Published: Feb 15, 2018 23:22 IST