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Kerala: NHM, ASHA Workers Hold Marches, Protest Delay in Release of Central Funds

NHM employees and ASHA workers accused the Union health department of inordinately delaying the release of Rs 820 crore for the financial year 2023-24 affecting the functioning of the Centrally- sponsored scheme.

 HM and ASHA Workers marched towards the BSNL office in Malappuram against the delay in sanctioning funds and imposing name changes of health centres by the union government. 


National Health Mission (NHM) employees and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers held marches to Central government offices across all the districts in Kerala to protest against the “inordinate” delay in transferring funds for the scheme to the state for financial year 2023-24.

The NHM Workers Federation accused the Union government of delaying the transfer of Rs 820 crore, leaving the state government to solely handle the responsibility of handling the healthcare programme. 

The Union Health Ministry is now demanding that the state change the name of family health centres (FHCs) as Ayushman Arogya Mandirs, after initially setting the condition of co-branding to release funds, the said.

The employees of NHM and ASHA workers said they were yet to receive wages for January 2024, adding that the state government alone is was contributing its 40% share toward the scheme even as the whole 60% share of the Centre was still pending.

The distribution of medicines, diagnostic charges, consumables, funds for Cath Lab and insurance schemes for the beneficiaries are severely affected due to the lack of funds, said the protesting workers.

The NHM Workers Federation (NHMWF) and the ASHA Workers Union said they were contemplating the possibility of a strike, as “neglect” from the Union government was directly affecting them.


The NHM functions in every state with 60% financial share from the Union government and the remaining 40% from the state government concerned. The contribution of both the Central and state governments is crucial for the execution of the schemes, since most of the programmes are directly related to community health aspects, such as catering to infants, children, pregnant and lactating women among others. 

The NHMEF, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), accuse the Union Health Ministry of failing to release the funds for the project, despite the state being a frontrunner in providing comprehensive health care. 

Meera Nair, general secretary of NHMWF, told Newsclick, “The Central share of Rs 820 crore was to be sanctioned in four instalments during this financial year. Unfortunately, we have not received any funds since April 2023. Various schemes executed by NHM are being affected by this”. 

The Left Democratic Front government has revised the wage for NHM employees and hiked the honorarium for Anganwadi and ASHA workers. But due to lack of funds from the Centre, the salary for January is still pending for NHM employees, she added.


The Union Health Ministry was insisting on co-branding in FHCs being operated in the state as a ‘condition” for release of funds. The departments concerned in the state have completed the co-branding process by displaying six logos provided by the Union government and uploaded in the website, as per directions. 

“Now they want us to change the FHC as Ayushman Aroghya Mandirs for releasing the funds. The state government has refused to change the names. Why is the Union government changing the conditions for release of funds for the state? Many states which completed the co- branding process were provided with the funds. This is a clear case of neglecting Kerala”, Nair said. 

The NHM employees have been holding continuous protests against the Centre’s “neglect”, including a three-day dharna in front of the Raj Bhavan in January 2024. The employees, on contract for implementing the ambitious targets set by NHM, said they were also deprived of social welfare and security measures. 

“Given the continuous neglect, we are planning a strike, which would adversely affect the functioning of the health system in the state. We urge the Union government to release the funds to avert such situations”, Nair said. 

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