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Survey finds major glitches in rural health programme

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) India’s flagship health scheme – National Rural Health Mission – has done some good work but it needs to iron out many glitches, including those in allocation to states to better health indicators, the Economic Survey 2009-10 released Thursday said.

Underlining some NRHM shortcomings that have also been pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the survey said: ‘Release of funds to state health societies and consequently to district and block levels require further streamlining to ensure prompt and effective utilisation of funds’.

The annual survey, which was presented to parliament Thursday, said that ‘village level health and sanitation committees were still to be constituted in nine states’.

The survey also said that through the mission, the government aimed at bettering the health infrastructure vis-a-vis population, but the ‘ratio of population to health centres remained low with the targeted number of new health centres not being established’.

‘Basic facilities were still absent in many health centres with many PHCs (primary health centres) and CHCs (community health centres) being unable to provide guaranteed service such as in-patient services, operation theatres, labour rooms, pathological tests, X-ray facilities and emergency care.’

It also said that in nine states, the stock of contraceptives and other medicines as mandated by the NRHM was not found and there was a shortage of service providers at different levels.

It said that funds for local action through united grants and annual maintenance grants to health centres remained almost unspent. The NRHM adopted an inter-sectoral convergence approach to healthcare. However, the committee did not meet frequently.

The scheme initiated decentralised planning for efficient implementation but district level annual plans were not prepared during 2005-08 in nine states. Similarly, villages level planning has not been done in 24 states and union territories.

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