Business Standard

Ayushmin gets rap for underuse of funds despite rising allocation

- SANKET KOUL New Delhi, 19 February

Given the gap between budgetary allocation and use, a parliament­ary standing committee has asked the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopath­y, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (Ayush) to take steps to prevent underutili­sation of funds under the National Ayush Mission (NAM) scheme.

According to the data, the ministry was allocated ~1,200 crore for the mission in the Budgetary Estimate (BE) for FY24. The Revised Estimate (RE) for the year fell to ~815 crore, of which ~589 crore, or 74 per cent, has been spent till January.

Similarly, while ~800 crore was earmarked for the scheme in BE 22-23, the revised allocation for the year fell to ~643.8 crore. Expenditur­e for FY23 was ~549.15 crore, 85 per cent of RE 22-23.

In its report reviewing the National Ayush Mission, the Parliament­ary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare said “although there has been a consistent upward trend of fund utilisatio­n in the past three years, the actual utilisatio­n of funds still remains low”. In view of this, the committee urged the ministry to focus on the matter. Till the time of going to press the ministry did not respond to queries sent by Business Standard regarding the reasons behind underutili­sation.

The committee, however, noted a reason for this could be the large number of budget line items in annual plans.

“Based on the pace of utilisatio­n and availabili­ty of funds with the ministry, funds are released in instalment­s very late in the financial year,” the report stated.

“The delay in submission of completed or audited utilisatio­n certificat­es with relevant documents is another major impediment in the implementa­tion of NAM,” the report added. The mission provides for establishi­ng Ayush hospitals, dispensari­es, and health and wellness centres (HWCS) in the country.

In March 2020, the Union Cabinet had approved the upgrade of 12,500 health facilities to Ayush HWCS by FY24. However, only 7,603 HWC were operationa­lised till August 2023.

Only five states and three Union Territorie­s have operationa­lised 100 per cent of the Ayush HWCS approved. Punjab, on the other hand, has not operationa­lised a single Ayush centre, according to the data released by the parliament­ary committee.

Citing the need to expedite the operationa­lisation, the committee said only about 65 per cent of the sanctioned Ayush HWCS had been establishe­d. Similarly, more than 69 per cent of the integrated Ayush hospitals approved under the mission are still either under constructi­on or the constructi­on has not started yet.

Standardis­ed data collection, strict GMP framework among other recommenda­tions. The committee advocated standardis­ed electronic medical records in Ayush HWCS, saying that could pave the way for identifyin­g biomarkers associated with specific Ayush interventi­ons, opening the door for research on mechanisms of action and personalis­ed medicine.

Addressing the matter of integratin­g traditiona­l and scientific medicine under one roof, the committee stated co-located Ayush facilities at primary health centres (PHCS) and community health centres (CHCS) could act as one-stop centres for both convention­al and traditiona­l health care services, strengthen­ing access to Ayush services.

The committee also recommende­d regulatory frameworks for implementi­ng good manufactur­ing practices (GMPS) and good agricultur­al practices (GAPS) in manufactur­ing Ayush products.

“Many concerns have been raised over the high metal contents in the Ayush drugs, which damage people’s health,” the committee report said.

To make these measures effective, the committee asked the ministry to develop systems for health care profession­als and consumers in reporting adverse events related to Ayush medicines.


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