West Bengal has not adhered to an MoU signed with the Centre for the implementation of the National Health Mission (NHM) and despite several communications, it has not complied with the branding requirements of Health and Wellness Centres, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday.
Under the Department of Expenditure guidelines, the release of funds to states is conditional to the fulfilment of mandatory conditions, the ministry said in response to media reports that the Centre was withholding NHM funds meant for West Bengal and the chief minister had written to the prime minister seeking his intervention in the matter.
The ministry said branding guidelines for Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) have been issued on May 30 in 2018.
However, in West Bengal the colour of the building of HWCs is blue and white and their name is written in regional language as "Susasthya Kendra" along with "Health and Wellness Centre" in English, the ministry said in a statement.
According to the memorandum of understanding signed between the Government of India and West Bengal for the implementation of NHM, the state shall ensure that the implementation of the programme and activities envisaged under the mission is as per the framework of implementation of NHM and other guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health from time to time.
Also, the state government shall adhere to all the existing manuals, guidelines, instructions and circulars issued in connection with implementation of the NHM, which are not contrary to the provisions of this MoU.
Additionally, according to the guidelines of the Department of Expenditure (DoE), the states need to adhere to the guidelines on the scheme for special assistance for capital investment in 2023-24.
Numerous meetings have been held on the issue of compliance of branding guidelines with all the states and union territories, including under the chairmanship of the Union health secretary, on March 31 and May 11 this year.
Several communications have also been sent to West Bengal on this issue.
"As per the observations during the visit for assessment of AB-HWCs operationalisation, the state had not complied with the branding requirements in the case of SC-HWCs and PHC-HWCs in rural and urban areas," the ministry said.
"Further, letter dated November 3, 2023 was also sent to the state reiterating that it had not complied with the branding guidelines as per GoI norms and it was mentioned that as per the directions of DoE, the further fund flow to the state under NHM will be conditional to the fulfilment of conditions," it stated.
Additionally, the Department of Expenditure had also communicated to the state regarding non-compliance of branding in centrally sponsored schemes, including AB-HWCs.
The issue of non-compliance of branding guidelines was reiterated in the National Programme Coordination Committee (NPCC) meeting held for consideration of the state of West Bengal's Programme Implementation Plan (PIP) under NHM held on November 8.
The state has also not participated in other Government of India consultations and programmes, it said.
The Central Council of Health and Family Welfare (CCHFW) is an apex advisory body set up to provide support and advice the government on policy formulation and to consider and recommend broad lines of policy in regard to matters concerning health.
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