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Govt taking steps to remove corruption in health sector: Ramadoss

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 5 (UNI) The government has taken corrective measures like ordering CBI inquiry and blacklisting companies indulging in corrupt practices in health sector procurement to convince the World Bank to release one billion dollars meant for health projects of the country.

''A lot of corrective measures have been taken to clean up the system. We have rectified the issue. CBI inquiry has been ordered and many of the companies indulging in corrupt practices have been blacklisted,'' Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said when asked about the fate of Reproductive and Child Health Programme of the National Rural Health Mission for which the Bank has withheld 350 million dollars in view of complaints of corruption during 1997 to 2002.

Talking to reporters here last night on the sidelines of the four-day regional consultation on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Dr Ramadoss said no programme of the NRHM has been stopped due to inadequate World Bank funds. He said Finance Minister P Chidambaram is looking into the matter with the World Bank.

''We will get the funds,'' he added.

Health Secretary P K Hota said since the issue came to light, the ministry has taken many steps to clean up the procurement system in the health sector.

Complaints received included overcharging, and some companies being favoured by ''doctoring papers and fabricating documents,'' he said and attributed it to the fact that no chartered accountant was appointed earlier to monitor the complex financial system of procurement in the health care system.

''We want to professionalise the procurement system so that no loophole is left. A system is being put into place to prevent such incidents in future,'' Dr Ramadoss said.

According to reports, the World Bank has withheld, since 2005, 350 million dollars meant for RCH project aimed at reducing child and maternal mortality rate. However, government is continuing with the project.

The Bank has also put on hold funding for five other proposed healthcare projects totalling a billion dollars following complaints of alleged fraud and corruption in procurement of pharmaceuticals for the programmes.

Among the projects for which the World Bank has withheld 200 dollars each are vector-bonre disease control project and HIV/AIDS control programme of National AIDS Control Organisation, other 170 million dollars meant for Second National Tuberculosis Control Project, Central TB Division, 141.83 million dollars for Karnataka Health System and 75 million dollars for West Bengal Health System.

Mr Chidambaram and World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz are holding extensive talks to resolve the matter soon.

UNI AJ AK BD1515

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