The National Health Mission in the State has been hit by a major financial crisis, leaving the programme “gasping for funds”. The NHM allocation from the Centre for the current year could be inordinately delayed adding to its woes.
The crisis is threatening almost all initiatives under the NHM and many, such as the non-communicable diseases control programme, could fold up as there are no funds to maintain the staff recruited for the purpose.
“We fully utilised last year’s allocation. By April-May, the NHM should have received nearly 75 per cent of its allocation for the current year. The Rs. 20 crore which was disbursed to the districts for pre-monsoon disease control was released by the Chief Minister,” a senior NHM official said.
But what could come as a body blow to the NHM is the latest policy decision by the Centre that the funds for all programmes sponsored by it will hence forth be routed only through the State treasury.
Until now, the NHM allocation directly reached the mission’s account through e-banking, to be disbursed to district societies for various health initiatives. Only a fraction of the funds – the State’s share in NHM – used to be routed through the treasury.
NHM officials point out that one of the biggest strengths of the NHM (formerly, NRHM) has been the direct, easy funds transfer and flexible utilisation across heads. Any fund that remains unutilised at the end of the financial year is carried forward.
Routing funds through the treasury could affect the flexible nature of the programme. Also, accessing funds as and when required will not be possible as the State exchequer would be in control of the money, it is feared.
“This year’s NHM allocation should have been included in the State budget if it had to be accessed through the treasury. But now that the budget had already been presented, we have to get the amount included in the supplementary demands, which poses several hurdles,” an NHM official said.
Unless the State government took immediate steps to release its share of NHM allocation – current year’s allocation of Rs. 20 crore and last year’s dues to the tune Rs. 40 crore – many health initiatives will be affected, the mission authorities said.