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Distribution of CGHS services in country not equitable: Parl panel

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (PTI) The distribution and accessibility of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) services across different regions of the country are not equitable and need to be addressed, a parliamentary committee has highlighted.

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In its 155th report on the 'Functioning of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS)' presented to the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare said that of the 340 allopathic wellness centres in 80 cities, 26 per cent are concentrated in Delhi-NCR.

Further, only six states -- excluding Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) -- have more than 10 CGHS centres, it said.

"This highlights that the distribution and accessibility of CGHS services across different regions of the country are not equitable and need to be addressed," the report said.

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The committee noted that Arunachal Pradesh and the Union Territories of Ladakh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep have no CGHS wellness centres.

There are many cities and towns where there is a sizeable number of central government employees, pensioners and their dependents, but no CGHS wellness centres exist there, the report said.

"As a result, the beneficiaries, particularly the retired beneficiaries, are required to travel long distances to get medical treatments, causing inconvenience to them...this scenario, apart from being financially draining on the beneficiaries, also causes various other hardships to the beneficiaries," the panel observed.

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The committee flagged that 18 polyclinics against 43 lakh beneficiaries across the country are insufficient and suggested the health ministry to take proactive steps for setting up new CGHS centres and consider exploring setting up wellness centres and polyclinics at a rapid pace in under-served areas, especially the suburbs of large cities where a considerable population of serving and pensioner beneficiaries reside.

The ministry should ensure that all aspirational districts in the country have CGHS centres and empanelled hospitals. The number of CGHS centres and their geographical reach are the main facets, the panel said.

The committee also flagged the poor infrastructure of some wellness centres vis-a-vis "shabby buildings, lack of proper sitting arrangements, lack of proper lighting, cleanliness, availability of basic amenities, etc".

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It recommended that the ministry periodically review the condition of available infrastructure at wellness centres, and necessary renovation or maintenance work be carried out in a planned manner.

The ministry should allocate separate and sufficient funds for periodic upkeep and up-gradation of the wellness centres, it stated.

The panel also highlighted the lack of ambulance services at many of wellness centres.

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This is required in critical cases of referrals and emergencies, it said, recommending the ministry also consider allocating separate funds for arranging at least one ambulance in each wellness centre so that a patient can be taken to the higher medical centre promptly for emergency treatment.

Besides, the committee also recommended that the ministry conduct a survey and collect data on the number of beneficiaries referred to higher centres and the reasons for such referrals.

"This would help in examining the lack of facility because of which the patient was required to be referred, and based on that report, the Ministry should consider developing infrastructure and facilities in the CGHS wellness centres and engaging specialist doctors and other allied staff," it stated. PTI PLB ANB ANB

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