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The National Rural Health Mission in Manipur derails

The National Rural Health Mission derails

Editorial, 2011-03-31 / 04:07:00

THE NATIONAL Rural Health Mission (NHRM) may not realise its objectives in Manipur, says the report of the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG). The main objectives of the NHRM is to reduce Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and control of the Total Fertility Rate (TFR). The TFR in particular aims at population stabilisation, prevention and control of communicable and noncommunicable diseases including epidemic diseases common to an identified area, all these with the involvement of the community.

The CAG report says that target figures will not be met as far as Manipur is concerned. This is most unfortunate. The NHRM was introduced to bring health care facilities in the rural areas and this state lacks behind in this sector. Time and again we hear of complaints of lack of doctors, nurses, medicine in rural areas, both in the valley and the hills. A failed NHRM will only confirm that those in power care too little for its rural population and that they lack the conscience and political will to carry out a task.

What was expected by the centre from Manipur? The state was expected to upgrade Community Health Centre (CHC), Primary Health Centres (PHC) and Primary Health Sub-Centre (PHSC). We know that these centres in some places have no staff to man them, in other places they lie in dilapidated conditions, and in some other areas they exist only on paper. The common factor is that they are not provided with proper staff. Whatever it is, without this basic infrastructure, there sets in the failure of providing accessible and quality health care services to the rural people.

The CAG report had also mentioned that community participation had not been ensured in the planning process. This comes as no surprise in Manipur. The worry is that the common man does not know that the Government of India has various schemes launched specifically to reach out to them to alleviate the problems arising out of their wants and needs.

The CAG report also specifically points out that out of the total fund of Rs. 119.93 crore available for 2009-2010 only Rs. 114 crore was utilised. As against this revelation how can the government keep telling the people that its policies are meant for the rural poor and their development? Come election time, one hopes the blame is not laid on an ‘usurping Imphal’.

The most disturbing aspect of the CAG report is this very clear mention of non-utilisation of funds. The report has specifically pointed out that the medical department failed to utilise the available resource fully which led to non-implementation of the NHRM’s schemes thus depriving the targeted population of health care services. The report says with finality that this inability to use available funds reflects an unrealistic assessment of fund requirement and that it has exposed the limited absorption capacity of the state. This nasty fact cannot be pushed under the carpet, it bulges out for all to see. Surely the authority cannot afford to take its normal stance of being stoic, nonchalant, wooden faced and tight lipped. It has some real and serious answering to do, unless it has gone dormant and is hibernating.

Let the authority limber up, stop being lazy bones and let us start at the beginning, which is, as of March 2010 the state still had not carried out a comprehensive household and facility survey to identity the gaps in health care facilities.

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