Special Correspondent

Focus on National Rural Health Mission; efforts to contain AIDS

  • Emphasis on mother and childcare
  • Allocation hiked for HIV/AIDS prevention

    NEW DELHI: An increased allocation has been announced in the budget for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) with particular focus on mother and childcare and communicable diseases. Allocation has also been hiked for HIV/AIDS prevention and polio elimination.

    The overall allocation for health has been hiked by 21.9 per cent. The proposed allocation for 2007-08 is Rs.15,291 crore, against Rs.11,366 crore in the current financial year. The allocation for NRHM has been hiked from Rs.8,207 crore in 2006-07 to Rs.9,947 crore in 2007-08.

    Claiming that NRHM was on schedule to meet the deadline, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the institutional integration of all health schemes at the district and lower levels had been achieved. All districts would complete preparation of health action plans by March.

    Emphasis would be on mother and childcare and on prevention of communicable diseases and malaria. The programme also sought to achieve convergence among various programmes such as immunisation, antenatal care, nutrition and sanitation, with anganwadi centres at the helm of affairs.

    Mr. Chidambaram said 320,000 Associated Social Health Activists (ASHAs) had been recruited and over 20,000 received orientation training. Besides, 90,000 link workers were selected by the States. "With trained ASHAs in place, I am confident there will be significant improvement in healthcare in rural areas. The ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy systems are also being mainstreamed into the health delivery system at all levels."

    Pointing out that the Government had brought HIV/AIDS out of the closet, he promised bold and determined efforts to achieve zero-level growth of the disease. The epidemic would be deemed "stabilised" if the prevalence rate was less than 1 per cent of the population.

    Announcing a strategy to expand access to condoms and ensure universal access to blood screening and safe blood, Mr. Chidambaram said he would step up the provision for the National AIDS Control Programme-III to Rs.969 crore.

    Support would also be given to the protocol on paediatric dosage developed by Indian doctors and more hospitals would provide treatment to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS from the mother to the child.

    On the outbreak of polio in western Uttar Pradesh in early 2006, he said the strategy for its eradication had been revised, with Rs.1,290 crore earmarked for the purpose.

    Further, the number of polio rounds would be increased, monovalent vaccine would be introduced and there would be intensive coverage in the 20 high-risk districts of Uttar Pradesh and 10 districts of Bihar. The programme had been integrated into NRHM and ASHAs and anganwadi workers would visit every household and track every child for immunisation.

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