Kerala will not implement the Centre’s proposal to privatise all district hospitals in the state, said Health Minister KK Shailaja.
The Times of India quotes the minister as saying, “The government is not ready to privatise the district hospitals in the state. The Centre has not informed that it is a compulsory directive from the Niti Aayog. Anyway, we are not ready for it.”
Many of the policies of the Central government are against the interests of the state, the minister added. The state is also not getting enough funds from the Centre. “Most of the new schemes (announced by the Centre) are tailor-made for the north Indian states,” the TOI report quotes KK Shailaja as saying.
The health department is currently using funds from the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), the state government’s financial institution, to mobilise funds from outside the state revenue for infrastructure development.
The minister also added that Kerala government does not agree with the Centre’s view that all district hospitals should be upgraded to medical college hospitals. Instead, the state is of the view that more specialized treatment should be made available in the district hospitals, she said.
The Niti Aayog proposal was included in the Union Budget presented on Saturday. The proposal suggests that medical colleges be attached to district hospitals in a public-private-partnership model.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that states which implement the policy would receive viable gap funding. The proposal was released in December 2019, to address the shortage of doctors in hospitals. Under it, patients would be divided into two: free patients and all patients other than the free patients.
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) – People’s Health Movement India – said it was concerned about this categorization, based on the ability of the patients to pay. They also stated that the transfer of public assets into private hands with the government earning a share of the private profits was a dangerous proposal.