Health Mission in for an overhaul, Govt to bring in experts

The National Health Mission brought by the UPA government is in for a major overhaul with new Health Minister Harsh Vardhan saying it has been a "non-starter" in urban areas.

PTI| Updated: May 30, 2014, 18:36 PM IST

New Delhi: The National Health Mission brought by the UPA government is in for a major overhaul with new Health Minister Harsh Vardhan saying it has been a "non-starter" in urban areas while its rural branch NRHM has been "bogged down" by several problems.

The BJP government has decided to bring in experts and streamline the system to ensure effective implementation of schemes such as supplying free generic drugs to government health institutions throughout the country as part of measures to provide universal health care.

Women specialists would receive special status in the Ministry`s new scheme of things and Vardhan has also reached out to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), who play a critical role in the execution of various programmes, to address their grievances.

In a review of NHM with officials, the Health Minister decided to include experts from outside to revitalise the ambitious scheme and hold a meeting of health ministers from states under the aegis of Central Council of Health (CCH), which has not met for several years, an official statement said today.

"The NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) is bogged down in unforeseen problems while the NUHM (National Urban Health Mission) is a non-starter," Vardhan said in his assessment, adding that it was time to streamline it to fulfill Narendra Modi government`s `Health for All` resolve.

The Manmohan Singh-led UPA government had launched NHM in 2005 and decided to expand it across urban India in 2013 after keeping it confined to rural India.

Vardhan`s decision to shake up the scheme, which according to experts has not produced desired results, came as the ministry decided to make NHM vehicle for supplying free generic drugs to government health institutions throughout the country.

Though a formal decision to this effect was taken by the Cabinet in May 2013 but its implementation had remained limited to a few, big-city hospitals as the infrastructure for procurement and distribution was not put in place, the Minister said.

To make NHM more participatory, he sought involvement of voluntary sector professionals and experts in different specialisations.
The statement said a new Standing Appraisal Group of experts would be formed soon and it would meet frequently to take stock of reports from voluntary sector experts as well as the officials` reactions.
"NGO heads with proven track record will be invited to be part of the reform process. Women specialists would receive special status in the Ministry`s new scheme of things as women are the worst victims of a dysfunctional public health system," the minister said in the statement.