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Centre spends Rs 50 cr on renaming Ayushman Bharat Health Centres to Arogya Mandir

Arogya Mandir

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 25: The Centre has spent over Rs. 50 crores to change the name of Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) to Ayushman Arogya Mandir, an RTI has revealed.
The Union Health Ministry announced the renaming of its flagship programme, which aims to provide free health care services and health insurance coverage to low-income earners in the country, on November 25, last year.
Five days after the sudden renaming of the programme, RTI activist Dr KV Babu filed an RTI.
“As per the RTI reply, Rs. 3,000 were to be spent for renaming each of the over 1.6 AB-HWCs. This means the total expenditure incurred in renaming these AB-HWCs cost the exchequer over Rs. 50 crore”, Babu told this newspaper.
According to the official website, there are 1,67,891 Ayushman Arogya Mandir in the country since its launch in 2018.
“There is nothing to suggest any upgradation of infrastructure or increase in the manpower of health care facilities along with the renaming. Unfortunately, huge amounts of money are spent on cosmetic exercises when the funding is already limited in the health sector in our country”, he added.
The Kerala-based Babu, an Ophthalmologist, said that an unnamed competent authority has made the “decision to rename AB-HWCs”.
He said his RTI went back and forth between the Union Health Ministry and the National Health Authority (NHA), an apex body responsible for implementing India’s flagship public health insurance scheme called Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PM-JAY), several times in the last 3 months.
He finally received a reply from the Health Ministry on February 8.
However, that too was incomplete, as the Ministry did not share information about communications with the stakeholders, details of budgets for any infrastructure upgrade or increase in human resources and other relevant files.
In his RTI reply, he received letters issued by Additional Secretary and Mission Director (National Health Mission) LS Changsan, which states how the new title has to be changed with the tagline “Arogyam Paramam Dhanam” – both in Hindi and English – the fonts to be used, logos and other details are mentioned.
The letter said that the funds required to rename the existing branded facilities may be proposed at Rs. 3,000 per facility.
The States were asked to implement and complete the exercise by December 31, 2023.
In another letter, dated December 21, to the States, Changsan said that a few States have already started the renaming exercise and asked the rest to complete the process.
The Additional Secretary again wrote a letter to the States on January 2, requesting them to issue necessary Government orders to undertake uniform renaming as per the guidelines and to complete it within the prescribed time frame, which was extended to January 31, 2024.
The letter says that field teams may be directed to repaint the new names on the building and not just put flex boards/banners.
“The tagline must also feature near the new name. The placement of the NHM logo and 6 service logos must also be ensured. One photo each of only the renamed centres is to be uploaded to the new utility developed on the portal and the same is to be verified at the State level for appropriateness. Please note that the images approved at the national level after verification will only be considered compliant. All States are requested to complete the renaming exercise by 31.01.2024 positively”, the letter said.
Under the Ayushman Bharat (AB) scheme, the Centre not only provides free healthcare services but also the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), which provides health insurance cover for Rs. 5 lakhs per year to eligible families in the country.
(Courtesy: TNIE)