According to the Union government, 17 states and Union Territories (UTs) in the country are currently short of a district hospital in each district.
Delhi and Kerala have the best district hospital presence (three hospitals per district), while Telangana has an abysmal presence of just one hospital for five districts.
Other states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka show a steep gap in terms of number of district hospitals per district, showed the Centre’s response.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, in a written reply to lawmakers Prathap Simha and Tejasvi Surya on whether the Union Government proposes to roll out the ‘One District, One Hospital’ plan in the country, said that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare provides technical and financial support to states and UTs to strengthen public healthcare delivery at public healthcare facilities.
“Rural Health Statistics (RHS) is an annual publication, based on health care administrative data reported by States/UTs. As per RHS 2020-21, there are 764 District Hospitals functioning in the country, which are catering to both rural and urban areas in the States/UTs, including Karnataka,” Mandaviya said in the reply.
District hospital needed for public health
K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), said the presence of a district hospital in every district is pivotal to strengthening health services in India.
“District hospitals need to be established and as far as possible, it should be connected to medical colleges. The district hospital should also become a training centre for medical and nursing students. Without that, the district health services can’t be strengthened,” Reddy told Moneycontrol.
He added that the government should see whether the sub-divisional hospitals in districts can be further strengthened and upgraded to district hospitals.
States told to accelerate the utilisation of central funds
A day before the reply was given in the lower house, the Union health ministry on July 28 told 14 states to accelerate the utilisation of central funds for completion of new medical colleges for early commencement of undergraduate (UG) courses.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, along with health secretaries and medical education directors of 14 states and UTs, reviewed the progress through a video conference. The Centre has sanctioned 157 new medical colleges in three phases since 2014.
Bhushan urged the states to expedite physical completion of projects to enable commencement of UG courses by academic session 2023-24.
“It was pointed out that since the scheme will conclude on March 31, 2024, all projects need to be completed in time,” the health ministry said in a statement.
The states and UTs that participated in the review meeting were Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha and Punjab.
According to the health ministry, states were told that a sum of Rs 7,500 crore has been allotted for the schemes for financial year 2022-23.
“However, due to the slow pace of expenditure of the states/UTs, and since there has been no requisition for release of funds from states, further release of funds by the Centre to states cannot take place,” the ministry said. Moneycontrol