Arogya Bandhu scheme
Why in news?
Modifying the Arogya Bandhu scheme guidelines, the State government has now limited the continuation of the scheme in only 12 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) that are 15 km away from the highway. This follows the recommendations by a committee set up to examine the feasibility of the scheme in September 2021.
About the scheme:
- The ‘Arogya Bandhu’ scheme was launched by the Health Department in May 2011 to partner with non-governmental organisations, charitable trusts and private medical colleges to run 52 of its PHCs in 39 taluks.
- In November 2016, the government took back 27 PHCs and revised guidelines for running the remaining 25 PHCs under the public-private-partnership (PPP) model.
- Subsequently, in September, 2020, the scheme was stalled when the Health Department filled the vacancies of doctors, paramedical staff, pharmacists and lab technicians.
- In July 2021, the department directed all District Health Officers (DHOs) to take back PHCs under the PPP model as and when their contract period ends. However, with the NGOs appealing to the government to renew their contract and allow them to run the PHCs under the scheme, a committee was set up in September 2021 to study the feasibility of continuing the scheme.
The modified guidelines:
- all PHCs under the scheme should appoint a MBBS doctor.
- All staff, including the doctor, should be aged below 60 years and should meet the government prescribed qualifications.
- Doctors should reside in the place where the PHC is located and all staff should be trained and actively involved in implementing the various state-run and central health schemes.
- The staff should maintain accounts (of funds released for national programmes) in the prescribed format and submit it to the taluk health officers. They should submit online target and achievement reports pertaining to the Mother Child Tracking System within the fifth of every month. Funds for the next quarter should be released only on the basis of these reports.
- The PHCs asset registers should be examined at regular intervals and the health department should obtain a ₹25 lakh bank guarantee from the NGOs.
If the medical services offered in the PHCs are not found to be satisfactory, the contracts should be terminated without any delay, the order stated.