New Delhi: The Union health ministry will integrate its staff under the National Health Mission (NHM) working on various programmes under a single umbrella, a ministry official said. The move will check duplication of staff in some places, while opening up possibility of round-the-clock services where it is required.

Currently, different heads under NHM such as Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP), National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) and Reproductive Child Health (RCH) have their own workforce. Thus, in one location, say a primary health centre (PHC), there are several lab technicians to perform different tests.

The ministry will save funds through rationalisation of services which will be available for other purposes. “We want to cut down funds on human resource and shift it to other components of programme like medicines," said a joint secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, who wished not to be named.

Posts of specialised doctors and nurses will not be touched. Streamlining will happen for data entry operators, programme supervisors, laboratory technicians and other such service providers.

“Right now, you have separate laboratory technicians for TB programme and malaria programme. But a lab technician is a lab technician, who can carry out all types of tests. We will use this pool as an integrated pool. They will do investigations for all the programmes, rather than specific programmes," said the official.

He said this will help provide better services to the people.

“The recruitment will be based on overall case load. If there is a facility which has one case of TB, three of malaria and two of HIV, then you may need only one technician there. And in places where case load is more, we will provide more people. We can start round-the-clock services in such locations. The idea is to provide human resource based on the case load," the official said.

“We will also need to rationalise salaries. Under different programmes, people with similar profiles are getting different salaries. We are trying to harmonise that part also. These will be tough decisions to take," the official said.

The official said that no one will be sacked, but the decision will influence future recruitments.

The government believes that by December all states would have restructured NHM on these lines.

The National Health Mission was launched in 2013, and the National Rural Health Mission, launched in 2005, was brought under it. NHM had an added component of National Urban Health Mission. NHM administers and funds more than 10 programmes—NVBDCP, RNTCP, RCH, National Programme for Control of Blindness, National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme, National Leprosy Eradication Programme, Integrated Disease Surveillance Project, National Mental Health Programme, Non-communicable Disease Control Programme, Programme for Prevention and Management of Burn Injuries and National Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn Child and Adolescent Health.

Many programmes that were running in India before the launch of NRHM like NVBDCP were brought under the ambit of NRHM and subsequently under NHM. These programmes function with their own staff and policies. Bringing the staff under one umbrella is the first step in the direction of integration of these programmes.

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