Centre should release Rs 621 cr under NHM, 'mohalla clinic' a state initiative: Punjab minister

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Chandigarh, Nov 21 (PTI) Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh on Tuesday urged the Centre to release Rs 621 crore as part of the National Health Mission funds to the state which has not received any central grants under the programme since December 2022.

The central government has denied charges of withholding funds saying the Punjab government was "converting" their Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC) into 'mohalla clinics', a pet project of the Aam Aadmi Party.

Singh said the Punjab government has written to the central government to consider 'Aam Aadmi Clinics' as a state government initiative.

“We set up 'Aam Aadmi Clinics' and the results are very good,” the state health minister said, and stressed that health was a state subject.

“In a meeting with the Centre, we told them that 'Aam Aadmi Clinics' have been made part of a state scheme and we will not mix them with the Centre's scheme. They should not have any objection now. Therefore, they should release the funds,” Singh told reporters here.

The AAP government has been at loggerheads with the Centre over the alleged withholding of funds under the NHM.

The AB-HWC is formulated with a 60:40 contribution ratio by the Centre and the state.

The Punjab minister said the state department of health and family welfare has received the first prize for its submission titled “Strengthening last mile delivery of drugs: A case study from Punjab” in the Global Health Supply Chain Summit held in Nairobi from November 14-16.

Of the total 85 countries that participated in the summit, at least 40 countries showed a keen interest in visiting Punjab to see the 'Aam Aadmi Clinics', Singh said.

They want to understand how 84 essential drugs and 40 plus diagnostics are being made available closer to households without any cost to the patients, he said.

“If delegates from 40 countries want to come here to see our healthcare model to replicate in their countries, the Centre should also support us and should release the funds for the welfare of the people,” said Singh.

The minister, however, said that there is no dearth of funds for upgrading healthcare facilities in the state.

Singh said 100 more 'Aam Aadmi Clinics' are ready to be thrown open to the public, while the chief minister has also given a go-ahead to set up 70 additional clinics in areas including Hoshiarpur, Pathankot and Gurdaspur.

To ensure the availability of medicines at government health facilities, the chief minister has also given his approval to purchase medicines, Singh said, adding that nobody will have to purchase medicines from private pharmacies.

Singh said Rs 550 crore is being spent for the upgradation of around 40 secondary care health facilities. The upgraded buildings of all the hospitals will be equipped with modern medical facilities including intensive care units (ICUs), ventilators, ultrasound, etc. and people will not have to visit private hospitals to avail such facilities, he added.

There are 664 'Aam Aadmi Clinics' – 236 in urban areas and 428 in rural – functioning in the state and over 70 lakh patients have availed free treatment at these clinics so far, the minister said. PTI CHS SKY SKY

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