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Cut in budget not healthy for state

Posted January 2nd, 2015, 10:40 AM IST

Cut in budget not healthy for state

Chennai: Health programmes directly implemented by the Union Government in Tamil Nadu – pulse polio, vector borne diseases control, leprosy control, AIDS control and vaccination - are likely to get affected by the 20 per cent cut in the health budget by government for the year 2014-2015. In addition to the healthcare budget, the finance ministry has also ordered a spending cut for India’s HIV/AIDS programme by about 30 per cent. Officials say they have not yet received any official communication from the headquarters.

“No direct fund is received from the Centre to the state health department. Funds are received either through Central government schemes or as contribution to state government schemes,” says general secretary of the Doctors’ Forum for People’s Health, Dr S. Kasi. He adds, “So there can be an impact locally.” According to the budget documents, 11.6 per cent of the total funds allocated to the health department in the country was unutilised in 2011 – 2012, 19.4 per cent was unutilised in 2012-2013 and 17.4 per cent in 2013-2014.

Members of the People’s Health Movement opine that funds allotted for core medical schemes and programmes will not be touched as the impact will be directly visible. They feel that funds allotted for non-core medical expenditure will be brought down considerably. This includes expenses on drug purchase and medical equipment, where the effect will not be immediately felt. “The impact depends on how state government manages the situation.

It can either divert funds from some other schemes, put down its own funds or can cost the expenses on less important things,” says Dr G.R. Ravindranath, general secretary of the Doctors’ Association for Social Equity. He adds, ”There was an exclusive cut down of funds to the National AIDS Control Organisation, apart from the 20 per cent cut down in the overall budget, which will have an impact on AIDS control activities. The state has been getting better with preventive measures these years and these awareness programmes should continue to maintain the situation.”

Project Director of the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society says, “There is no official communication from the National AIDS Control Organisation. The organisation allots about `92 crore annually to Tamil Nadu and the funds increase every year. Most of these funds are utilized for treatment, prevention and awareness.”

According to recent data released by the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), only 2,738 fresh cases of HIV were identified in 2013-14 and this is 57 per cent less when compared to the data in the last seven years. The number of fresh HIV cases in 2000 was 8,380 and in 2007 it reduced to 6,378. Yet, India had the third largest number of people living with HIV in the world at the end of 2013, according to the U.N. AIDS programme, and accounts for more than half of all AIDS-related deaths in the Asia-Pacific region.

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