New Delhi: The government, which had floated hopes of affordable healthcare by announcing that 20 institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) would be set up, has failed to make the first six such institutes fully functional even 16 years after their conception.

The progress of the project has been tardy and it has faced major problems, said the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare in its report on the functioning of new AIIMS (phase-I) under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

“Although six new AIIMS have been made functional, but many facilities are yet to be made available for the patients," said the report tabled in Lok Sabha last week by the committee headed by Ram Gopal Yadav.

“Even though the project was announced long ago in the year 2003, these AIIMS-like institutions in phase-I are yet to become fully functional as an institute of national importance as AIIMS, Delhi," it said.

“Till date, the government has announced over 20 AIIMS-like institutions in a phased manner, but the projects under phase-I still have huge deficiencies and suffer from inadequate facilities," according to the panel.

The committee cited the report of the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) of India and said that shortage of faculty posts ranged from 55% to 83% in six new AIIMS, including Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur, and Rishikesh. The shortage of non-faculty posts ranged from 77% to 97%, the report said. In many AIIMS, the infrastructure required is available but super-speciality departments are non-functional because of the acute shortage of the medical faculty and specialists, the panel highlighted.

“This is a typical example of constructing buildings without foundation. With no staff, the infrastructure and resources are lying untapped and unutilized. There is a dire need to address this acute shortage as it has a direct impact on the quality of health service and medical education in the institutes," it said.

The Union health ministry has failed to make a proper financial assessment for establishing the new AIIMS-like institutions, according to the committee. The capital cost of each new AIIMS under phase-I of PMSSY was estimated by the health ministry in 2004 to be 284.50 crore ( 1,707 crore for all six AIIMS). In 2006, a revised capital cost of 332 crore was approved for each new AIIMS. In March 2010, the ministry obtained a revised approval of 820 crore for each new AIIMS.

“The committee is taken aback at this skewed financial assessment of the government’s flagship healthcare service programme. This fluctuating assessment speaks volumes of the ministry’s lack in planning and failure to formulate any operational guidelines for AIIMS-like institutions," the report said.

“The committee also notes that the approval of the revised cost was obtained in March, 2010, after four years of the initial approval in 2006. This represents a 188% and 145% increase in capital costs since 2004 and 2006 respectively. The ministry must undertake proper and practical financial assessment with respect to the capital cost of new AIIMS-like institutions in subsequent phases," it said.

PMSSY, a central sector Scheme, was announced by the Prime Minister in the year 2003 with the objective of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable and reliable tertiary healthcare services and augment facilities for quality medical education in the country.

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