The slogan of Health for All, continues to be a mirage in India. Contrary to what was promised, the Congress-led government brazenly trod the path of neoliberal reforms and continued the trends that were set in motion in 1991. Today in India the health profile of our people has deteriorated.

NRHM: The early conception of the NRHM emphasized population control, and a few targeted interventions on child health. The CPI(M) championed the cause of a comprehensive and universal public health programme. The sustained pressure led to a reconceptualisation of the NRHM, with introduction of measures to strengthen public health infrastructure. However the NRHM continues to be plagued by problems of grossly inadequate funding and of measurers that promote privatization under the garb of “Public Private Partnerships” and introduction of “user fees”. The NRHM had envisaged expenditure of Rs. 55,000 crore per year by 2012 but for past 2-3 years it has stagnated at about Rs. 10,000-12,000 crore per year. ASHA, the community health worker in the scheme, receives an average allowance of 600 rupees. This is unjust and unsustainable.

Plummeting Financial Support To Public Health: The overall public expenditure on health has stagnated at 0.9 per cent of GDP, among the lowest in the world and ahead of only five countries—Burundi, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sudan, and Cambodia. This belies the CMP commitment that: “The UPA Government will raise public spending on health to at least 2-3 per cent of the GDP over the next five years, with focus on primary healthcare.”

Immunization of Children: There has been very little improvement in coverage of children by vaccination in the last five years under the Universal Immunization Programme. 56 per cent of our children still do not receive all the vaccines listed in the national programme. The decision to close four vaccine producing units in the public sector, led to rampant shortages of vaccines and rising costs. Under pressure from the CPI(M), the Government gave an assurance that it would reverse this decision.

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