Budget 2019: Underfunding of National Health Mission Continues

Former NHM Mission Steering Group members say there is a visible failure in strengthening the public health system.

Sarojini Nadimpally, Yogesh Jain and Amar Jesani | The Wire | 5 February 2019

The funding for the National Health Mission (NHM), the expanded form of the flagship programme of NRHM initiated in 2004 to strengthen the public health services, has been dropping consistently over the years.

In the financial year 2016-17, the government of India allocated Rs 19,437 crore for the NHM. This was a 2% increase over the 2015-16 allocations, but a dismal 1.18 % of the GDP expenditure. The 2019-20 interim budget has raised the allocation for the NHM from Rs 30,683 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 31,745 crore. This is close to the actual spending on NHM during 2017-18, which was Rs 31,510 crore.

In the past, during the meetings of the Mission Steering Group (MSG) of the NHM, we, as then members, consistently raised our concern regarding the mission’s underfunding. We are still grappling with the fact that public facilities in most parts of the country fall far short of the need and do not provide free access to medicines and diagnostics.

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