India – Urban health mission shelved for now
NEW DELHI: India’s ambitious national programme to provide quality healthcare to the country’s urban poor – the National Urban has been shelved for the time being and will not be launched during the present 11th five-year plan.
Designed on the lines of UPA government’s flagship National Rural Health Mission, NUHM was being prepared to provide accessible, affordable and reliable primary healthcare facilities to the 28 crore people living in urban slums in 429 cities and towns.
The project had already received in-principle approval from the Planning Commission and was also cleared by the ministry’s Expenditure Finance Committee.
However, Union health secretary K Sujatha Rao said that NUHM would now be launched during the 12th plan.
Rao told TOI, “We have so far focused on energizing India’s rural areas with NRHM. Sinve there are just two years left in the 11th plan (2007-2012), NUHM will be launched post-2012 now.”
She added, “Over the next two years, we will sharpen NUHM’s execution plan and get its strategy right. Once both NUHM and NRHM run simultaneously, we can call it India’s Unified National Health Mission.”
At present, 60% of the pressure on urban hospitals is because of non-availability of health facilities and doctors in rural areas. In hospitals in state capitals, around 70% of patients are from rural areas, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had told TOI some time ago.
NUHM’s launch is being constantly deferred since 2008. It was initially to be launched to cover 35 cities in the first year with 429 cities by the end of the third year. All cities with a population above one lakh, state capitals and even district headquarters were to be brought under NUHM’s purview.
The urban mission was expected to specially benefit the 6.9-crore slum population. Over 285 million urban people in India account for 28% of the country’s total population. It is expected to increase to 33% by 2026.
According to projections, out of the total population increase of 371 million during 2001-2026, the share of increase in the urban population is expected to be 182 million who suffered from serious health problems.
As per the National Family Health Survey-III, the under-five mortality rate among urban poor at 72.7 is higher than the urban average of 51.9. More than 50% children are overweight and almost 60% of children miss total immunisation before completing one year.