ghulam-nabi-azad vs montek-singh-ahluwaliaPrime Minister Manmohan Singh asked health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to sort out their differences over the planning and formulation of the health policy under the 12th Five Year Plan.

The health ministry is up in arms against the Planning Commission’s suggestion to ‘corporatize healthcare’ which they feel will create a competitive scenario between public and private healthcare institutions. The commission’s decision to regulate hospitals based on number of patients is another sore point. The planning commission on the other hand is opposed to setting up two separate health missions for the rural and urban centres which perhaps explains why the much touted National Urban Health Mission hasn’t been launched yet.

Ahluwalia said that there were several concerns that needed to be sorted out and he will meet Mr Azad to sort out the differences before the 12th Plan goes to the cabinet. The Planning Commission had tried to push for a healthcare model where the public sector would be a mere regulator in the delivery of healthcare services with greater impetus from the private sector.

The commission’s suggestion to have a single National Health Mission instead of a separate national rural and urban health missions also ran into rough weather. Ahluwalia said, “The ministry is of the opinion that NRHM should not be touched and be allowed to run separately.” He was firm against having two separate missions in the country — one catering to urban and the other to rural populations.

Read more about the 12th Five Year Plan’s Healthcare proposals