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Representatives of ESIC and health ministry are scheduled to appear before the parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Representatives of ESIC and health ministry are scheduled to appear before the parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

Lack of funds affecting functioning of ESIC hospitals

  • The standing committee on labour has invited representatives of ESIC and health ministry for further deliberations on the functioning and management of these hospitals

NEW DELHI : Functioning of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) run hospitals has come under the scrutiny of parliamentary panel, as the authorities have asked the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and some state governments to take over the control of some of these health facilities.

Also, covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the woes of the ESIC-run hospitals, which often face the problem of dual administrative control from state governments and the ESI Corporation.

The standing committee on labour has invited representatives of ESIC and health ministry for further deliberations on the functioning and management of these hospitals which essentially provide health care facilities to government officials. Representatives of ESIC and health ministry are scheduled to appear before the parliamentary paneon Tuesday to assess the impact of covid-19 on these healthcare facilities.

“The biggest problem is that hospitals under ESIC have not been developed to meet the requirements of the people and this has continued for a very long time. There are hospitals which are run by the state governments and medicines are provided by ESIC which makes it difficult for the smooth functioning of these health facilities. The ESI Corporation has now asked the health ministry and respective state governments to start taking control of some of these hospitals for better management and functioning," a person aware of the matter said.

“Covid-19 is a recent phenomenon and of course it will be part of the discussion because ESIC hospitals are important healthcare facilities, but the crisis within the ESIC has continued for a very long time and it is financially draining ESIC," he added.

Under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) it was decided to improve and build ESIC hospitals at par with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), but the decision was not implemented completely due to paucity of funds.

While the Congress-led UPA government had sanctioned the initial funding to develop several ESIC hospitals as medical colleges, it didn’t pursue it further because of financial constraints, the person cited above said. Now, the issue is that ESIC has told the Centre and the states that it can no longer afford to run these facilities, he added.

The Parliamentary panel also believes that there’s a complete lack of responsibility since in some cases, it’s the responsibility of either the state government or Union government along with ESIC to provide funds.

“There is ESIC, Union government and state governments which look at the functioning of these hospitals but this is exactly the problem because there is complete lack of responsibility. These health facilities were built to look after the health of government employees working in mines and hazardous industries and it is the responsibility of all authorities to ensure people get health facilities without any problems," the person quoted above added.

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