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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

‘Funds won’t be a problem for Ayushman Bharat scheme’ says Punjab health minister Brahm Mohindra

In an interview to HT, Punjab health and family welfare minister Brahm Mohindra spoke about the reasons that are holding up the scheme and other issues concerning his department.

punjab Updated: Sep 30, 2018 10:12 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab health minister Brahm Mohindra
Punjab health minister Brahm Mohindra(HT Photo)

Though the Punjab government has firmed up plans to roll out the Union government’s much-hyped insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, also known as Ayushman Bharat Yojana that will provide health cover to around 30 lakh families in the state, its implementation has been delayed. In an interview to HT, Punjab health and family welfare minister Brahm Mohindra spoke about the reasons that are holding up the scheme and other issues concerning his department. Excerpts:

Why is the Ayushman Bharat insurance scheme being delayed in Punjab?

We want to amalgamate health insurance schemes of the Punjab government and the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. As we promised universal health insurance to the people of Punjab in our election manifesto, we are taking time to study the financial implications of the central scheme.

There are reports that the state finance ministry has objected to the scheme.

There is nothing like that. The state is facing financial constraints due to overspending by the previous government. We cannot delay the scheme due to financial reasons. The government is working on it and things will be sorted out soon.

Your department has promised to bring Clinical Establishment Act to regulate private hospitals. Is there any pressure from the IMA to delay it?

There is no such pressure. Once the act comes into force, services of private hospitals will be regulated. Our department is working on it and we will seek objections from stakeholders. It will be made mandatory for private hospitals to display rates for each service on their premises.

Why is there shortage of medicines in government stores?

Procurement of some medicines has been delayed due to the tendering process. We will make civil hospitals and medical colleges self-reliant and for this, the government has allowed them to use money collected as user charges from patients. Earlier, user charges were deposited in the state treasury.

The government promised to improve medical education in Punjab, but recently two medical colleges have been shut.

The colleges were shut because of their own failures. As far as shortage of MBBS seats is concerned, we are planning to fill the void by opening a new medical college in Mohali having 100 seats. If everything goes well, we will start the college by the next session.

Your department is contradicting media reports on the number of drug-related deaths.

I am not contradicting the media. We all are fighting against the drug problem. But the cause of deaths can only be ascertained after the post-mortem. More than 14 lakh patients have visited the 147 Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) centres in past around one year. All this has been possible as the government has broken the supply of drugs and patients are coming to get treatment.

Shortage of doctors and specialists has always been an issue. What is the situation now?

There will be no shortage by next year. The process to recruit doctors has been initiated through the Punjab Public Service Commission. At least 340 doctors will join the department soon. Recruitments are being done in a phased manner.