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Health ministry objects to Plan Com draft paper for the sector

Last Updated: Sunday, August 12, 2012 - 17:54

New Delhi: The Health Ministry has raised serious objections to the Planning Commission's 12th Plan draft approach paper for the sector, which proposes enhanced role of the private sector in health care delivery.

Insisting that public spending on health be pegged at least at 2.5 percent of the GDP, the ministry has said the same should further be enhanced to 2.85 percent of the GDP by the end of the plan.

The plan panel has suggested merely 1.58 percent of the GDP spending on health during the 12th Plan.

"We have told the Planning Commission that our endeavour should be to reach 2.5 percent of the GDP target for public spending on health which should be gradually increased to 2.85 percent by the end of the plan period," a senior Health Ministry official said.

Voicing concerns over the Plan panel's draft paper on health for the 12th plan, the ministry has sought strengthening of the public health system, red flagging the panel's stress on private sector involvement for health care delivery.

"We should not abdicate our responsibility to the private sector without strengthening the public health system. Health care delivery should depend more on public health infrastructure, with the private sector only supplementing it," the Health Ministry has said in its note to the Planning Commission.

The note further points out, "the public health system is suffering due to under investment resulting in poor infrastructure and health capacity across the country. The focus in the 12th Plan should be to strengthen the public health system".

The plan panel's proposal to expand the National Rural Health Mission to urban areas instead of setting up a separate National Urban Health Mission has also met with stiff resistance from the Health Ministry.

The ministry has written to the Planning Commission saying though it would welcome an overall National Health Mission, it would not compromise on a uniform rural and urban health missions under the larger umbrella.

"Rural and urban areas have varied health demands and need different approaches for redressal. It would not be appropriate to have the same health mission for both rural and urban areas or else the whole purpose of focused delivery will be lost," the ministry note to the Planning Commission says.

The concerns, Ministry officials said, would be taken up this week in a meeting with the Plan panel. The Health Plan is to be finalised by August end.

Ahead of the finalisation, even the high-level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage headed by K Srinath Reddy recently resisted the proposals of the Planning Commission's health document which talks of corporatisation of the sector.

The group was set up by the plan panel in 2010.

After the concerns the group were raised, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said, "there is lot of confusion whether we (the Commission) are privatising the health system. This is actually false. We have categorically said that public sector part of the health system has to be hugely strengthened".

"The Planning Commission will, however, revisit the draft health chapter of the 12th Plan this week with a view to address the concerns raised by the Ministry and public health experts," he said.


First Published: Sunday, August 12, 2012 - 17:54
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