Union Health Minister J P Nadda has said the National Health Assurance Mission would entail an assurance of services and not necessarily an increased financial commitment. There is no dearth of funds, the issue is utilisation of resources and strengthening systems, he said.
“Optimum utilisation will ensure NHAM, it is an assurance of services, the matter of financial commitment comes later. There are centres where there is an X-ray machine but nobody knows how to operate it. These things need to be taken care of. We will do an equipment and manpower audit to find out the ground situation. Rogi Kalyan Samitis will ensure that equipment do not lie idle,” Nadda said in his maiden media interaction over two months after taking charge.
Replying to a question on regulation of private healthcare, he said the ministry would wait for responses to National Health Portal to take the matter forward but the government will take all measures to protect interests of common people even if there are some projects for which the PPP mode is opted for.
He said the downsizing of health budget in revised estimates will not affect flagship programmes. “Suppose, we gave money to some project and the expenditure was only 0.9 per cent of the fund given, where will the rest of money go? I was given x amount…but if I have just reached half way, then during the last quarter, finance ministry takes care of all this. The Health Ministry is not affected. No projects, flagship programmes, programmes of giving equipment, medicines, infrastructure is suffering because of this,” Nadda said.
Interestingly, the way health assurance was envisaged by an expert committee was not just a “pulling up of socks” exercise.
The ministry’s concept note for the PMO drawn up before Nadda took charge envisaged NHAM as a partly insurance based scheme that borrows from Central Government Health Scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and Andhra Pradesh government’s Arogyashri scheme with five major components – preventive and promotive health, free drugs, free diagnostics, hospitalization in government hospitals/referral to private providers and tertiary care.
The per person annual expense as per the report of the committee set up by health ministry under Dr Ranjit Roychowdhury comes to Rs 600 for primary healthcare, an additional Rs 400 for secondary healthcare and Rs 150 more for tertiary care.