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West Bengal: Central Govt Stops its Allocation of Funds to the National Health Mission

This came after the Central government withdrew its allocations to MGNREGA and the housing scheme in West Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Image Courtesy: PTI

After the country's independence, one sub-health centre was built for every 5,000 people. Primary health centres have doctors, while Sub-health centres are staffed by trained nurses. These centres provide vaccines for children, tablets, and medicines for common fever, malaria, TB, and other infectious diseases. However, this time, these medical services are about to be closed. The central government has stopped its share of funds to the NHM (National Health Mission) scheme in West Bengal.

This came after the Central government stopped allocating funds for MGNREGA in West Bengal. Will the National Health Mission meet the same fate?

The Central government has stopped funding the NHM project, questioning the state's role in the face of several conditions that will directly impact about 11,000 sub-health centres. 

These sub-health centres play an important role in the initial phase of the treatment of poor people. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to the Prime Minister last Wednesday, seeking his intervention to release the allocated money.

The state government named sub-health centres as Sushasthaya Kendras. However, the central project is supposed to be named the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre. 

LS Changson, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Mission Director, NHM Project, has written to the states to change the name.

In a letter to the states on November 25, Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre was renamed "Ayushman Arogya Mandir" with the phrase "Arogyam Param Dhanam." 

All government sub-health centres funded by the NHM across the country are now 'Ayushman Arogya Mandir' and should be coloured in orange. The medical community has criticised this attempt by the BJP government at the Centre to saffronise the medical centres. 

According to doctors, even after so many years of independence, medical services have not been delivered to the people of all parts of the country. 

In her letter to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister opposed the condition of changing the colours of sub-health centres. She also asked why the state's money is being withheld even after fulfilling all other conditions of the central government.

The saffronisation in all areas of administration and various ministries has been planned considering the next year's Lok Sabha polls.

According to sources from the State Health and Family Welfare Department, colour change is not the only reason for withholding money. In this case, the health department officials also fear that corruption is involved. As a reason, they say, "Almost all the state governments of the entire country spend NHM project money through the PFMS (Public Finance Management System) under the supervision of the Union Finance Ministry. But the West Bengal government only spends a huge amount of this project by keeping the private batch." 

As a result, many complaints have come to the fore regarding money for welfare projects like MGNREGA and the housing scheme.

The people of the state have witnessed the politics of complaints and counter-complaints for the past two years. The poor people coming to the sub-health centres have already started facing problems due to the blockage of central government allocations.

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