IndiaPunjab(Chandigarh)States and Capitals

The Center threatens to stop giving money to Punjab for health centres, and the state responds

Officials familiar with the situation say that the Union health ministry is likely to stop funding Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) in Punjab because the state government is allegedly trying to turn them into mohalla clinics, a flagship project of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi.

Under the Ayushman Bharat programme, which is run by the central government, close to 150,000 AB-HWCs have been set up all over the country. The Centre and the state each put in 40% and the Centre put in 60%. Based on the MoU signed between the Centre and the states, the officials said that when the state governments run these clinics, they must follow certain rules set by the Centre, including those about branding.

They said that the Punjab government was not following the rules for operations.

In a letter to the Punjab government on February 6, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the state “defaulted” on its promise by calling AB-HWCs “Aam Aadmi Clinics” and not following the MoU’s rules for putting the scheme into action.

“The state has violated Clause 10.3 and 10.10 of MoU and has stopped implementing the AB-HWC component of NHM (National Health Mission), so releases to the state under NHM do not seem possible according to Clause 13 of the MOU,” said a letter signed by Roli Singh, additional secretary and mission director for the National Health Mission (NHM).

“The state has also signed an MoU with the government of India based on the NHM framework, which requires the state to follow the NHM rules. But it’s clear that the State is still not meeting the branding requirements for PHC-HWCs in both urban and rural areas,” the report said.

“What the state government is really pushing is their own project, which they should pay for themselves,” said a government official who asked not to be named.

Balbir Singh, who is the health minister of Punjab, said that the claim was false and that there was no question of misusing funds because the money that was meant for health was being spent on health.

“The Aam Aadmi Clinics have improved the quality of health care in rural areas,” he said.

He said that the Centre should go to these clinics and look at how the state does things so that the idea can be used all over the country. “Also, health is a matter for the state, and the Center shouldn’t get involved,” he said.

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