Deliver on your heath care commitments: NGOs to FM

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New Delhi, Feb 22: Aghast at UPA government backtracking on its promise of investing 3 per cent of GDP on health, as many as 3,000 NGOs and network organisations, today asked Finance Minister P Chidambaram to deliver on his promise in the Budget 2008-09 and ensure better utilisation of funds allocated for various health care programmes.

They said the spending on the heath care programmes was as low as 0.9 per cent of GDP, which was way below the NCMP commitment of 4 per cent of GDP. "The coming Union Budget is the last opportunity for the government to show that it does what is says," Mr Ravi Bajaj, a spokesperson of 'Wada Na Todo Abhiyan' told a Press Conference here. "Wada No Todo Abhiyan(Don't break your promise)' is a campaign launched by as many as 3,000 NGOs and network organisations seeking government's fulfilment of its promises on the two key areas of health and education. The grand coalition runs across 23 States moitoring UPA's health spending on the ground.

The campaigners also sought fulfillment of government's commitment to spend as much as 6 per cet of GDP on education.

Mr Duggal said the year 2007 marked the mid-way to the Millennium Development Goals(2000-15)and the fourth year of a government brought to power on its promise to meet and exceed the MDGs through the full implementation of the NCMP. "Yet despite the celebrations of 9 per cent growth, in the 'Other India' millions of poorer Indians remain excluded from the most basic rights and subject to the tyranny of mass hunger, illiteracy and ill health". he said.

"The Central Statistical Organisation(CSO) has estimated that out-of-pocket or self-financing expenses account for a whopping 83 per cent of the total expenditure. With the economy growing at 9 per cent per annum, this state of things is both regressive and iniquitious for people living below the poverty line-- people who are at the threshold of subsitence," Ms Sandhya Venkateswaran of the Abhiyan said.

The experts and campaigners said that not only the amount allocated was meagre as compared to the needs of the country, the utilisation rate of the funds was short by almost 33 per cent.

Mr Duggal said that more women die of childbirth in India than anywhere else in the world. Of the 5.36 lakh such deaths in 2005 globally, more than 20 per cent were in India. Over half the mothers and infants still do not get access to safe institutional delivery.

He said increased allocation alone to the health care sector can enable recruitment and training of 200,000 more ANMs as also set up 21,983 new health centres at the primary level to achieve the health service coverage envisaged in the ambitious National Rural Health Mission.


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