The two years of Devendra Fadnavis government has done little to alleviate problems in the healthcare sector. From their inability to tackle malnutrition to non-implementation of the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), the government has been unable to adopt a pro-active role in solving the grievances of the people, the Jan Arogya Abhiyan (JAA) said on Tuesday.
JAA is a people’s health movement.
Talking to the media, JAA activists Dr Anant Phadke and Dr Abhijit More further pointed out that the number of severely underweight children in the state has increased from 78,473 in 2014-15 to 83,068 in 2015-16. The number of deaths of children under 5 years age in Maharashtra has increased from 4,101 in 2014-15 to 4,913 in 2015-16. The number of children who are severely underweight has increased in 2015-16, compared to 2014-15, especially in the districts of Amravati, Beed, Buldhana, Chandrapur, Jalgaon, Latur, Mumbai, Nagpur, Nanded, Nashik, Sangli, Wardha and Washim.
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Pointing out the government’s failure in tackling malnutrition, JAA said that while the number of malnourished children under the age of 5 has increased. The government has reduced the budget allocation for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) services from Rs 3,619 crore to Rs 2,538 crore this year — a reduction of about Rs 1,080 crores. As a result, the anganwadi staff are facing troubles in receiving their salaries regularly.
Shortage of funds has forced the Village Child Development Centres, that had started in 2015 for treatment of children at village level, to bring down their shutters. All the Child Treatment Centres across the state have also been shut for the same reason. The block-level Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres have been shifted to district level, depriving several children. There is a lack of co-ordination between the health and the nutrition departments which creates obstacles in providing treatment.
The budget allocation for the crucial National Health Mission was Rs 3,142 crores for 2015-16, and in 2016-17, it has now been reduced by 425 crores, bringing the allocation to Rs 2,717 crores. Considering the WHO’s recommendations, the government must spend 5 per cent of the GDP on health services but the Maharashtra government is spending only 0.6 per cent.
They further lashed out at the impending implementation of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana. The said that the government decision to update information on beds available at charitable hospitals’ websites is yet to be implemented.
Phadke further said that the draft of the Clinical Establishments Act, that brings minimum regulation on the private hospitals and mandates that the patients’ rights are followed, is stuck at the ministerial level despite being passed by the Law Department. Given the current cash crunch, where private hospitals are behaving in a very high-handed manner, the need for this act has been further reiterated. They also stressed that although the Amrut Aahaar Yojana — that aims to provide nutritious food to pregnant and lactating women, and eggs and banana to children — is a welcome move, but the allocation of a meagre sum of Rs 25 for a complete meal for every woman and Rs 5 for every child needs to be increased.