GoI unhappy with NRHM Director’s appointment
Representational Photo

GoI unhappy with NRHM Director’s appointment

While National Rural Health Mission continues to make headlines for financial problems resulting in delay and stalling of services, the state government has failed to implement recommendations of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, directed at improving fund flow.

While National Rural Health Mission continues to make headlines for financial problems resulting in delay and stalling of services, the state government has failed to implement recommendations of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, directed at improving fund flow.

As a result, NRHM employees are without salaries and fund flow to various schemes has been badly hit.

In 2013, GoI, in a confidential communiqué wrote to JK about the dire need to appoint an officer with 'sufficient expertise of handling funds' as Mission Director NRHM. This, the letter said, would help in implementing 'meaningful interventions' through NRHM in the state.

"…officer, who has worked in the field and handled various assignments like District Development Commissioner, Director, acquires sufficient expertise of handling funds, preparing plans and implementing various Government schemes," the official document reads.

It pleads the case by citing the example of 'most of the states' where an officer of IAS level has been given the charge of Mission Director NRHM for better outcomes of the Mission. "This (the appointment of a competent person), will lead to better coordination at the State level and in the field, and improved health services and outcomes."

An official in the administration said that the case of appointing a director for NRHM according to the guidelines of the mission has been relegated to the back-burner by authorities. "NRHM is supposed to be support system to the health services of the state. However, with an inappropriate director in place, it is not able to deliver as it should," he said.

Chief Secretary Iqbal Khandey, to whom the said letter had been addressed, said, "In various states, there are various norms of running the mission. Here we have a doctor who is in charge, and it is going on well." He added that he is not aware of any communication from anybody with regard to the appointment criteria of Mission Director NRHM.

Reportedly, there is also a 'clash' of hierarchy between Mission Director NRHM and the DHSK. According to MoHFW, NRHM is the funding facilitator for various health schemes supported by GoI in J&K and other states. NRHM, according to health officials, is the 'financial window' for the schemes run through health services.

However, many of these schemes run into rough patches every once a while, making headlines. Non-payment of salary of NRHM employees, non-payment of other incentives under various schemes, infrastructure development and some programs being a non-starter have made news in the recent past and have been attributed to the choking and hurdles of funds by GoI to NRHM J&K.

Mission Director NRHM, Dr. Yashpal Sharma, however refuted the reports of fund flow problems. He added that in the year 2015-16, Rs. 689 crores have been allocated to J&K state. "GoI does not allocate funds if the previous funds are not utilised and the utilisation not documented properly," he said.

He attributed the financial problems of NRHM to the laxity and delay in providing funds by the state government. "The problems of funding have been mainly due to the state not releasing the share of funding that it had to provide," he said.

"Because there is a junior level officer in position at NRHM, the program implementation suffers as other bureaucrats and administrators refuse to take orders from a junior officer," said an official.

Dr. Sharma had been placed as 'In-charge Mission Director NRHM' in 2009. He was Officer on Special Duty with then Minister of Health, Sham Lal Sharma, and working as Deputy Medical Superintendent in Health Services J&K.

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