Start of 102, 108 ambulances held up by NHM office in J&K

Start of 102, 108 ambulances held up by NHM office in J&K
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So too the biomedical equipment maintenance program; JKSMCL officials allege kickbacks involved

Srinagar: The office of the National Health Mission (NHM) in Jammu and Kashmir is sitting on files since January for the approval of emergency ambulance services and the Biomedical Equipment Management and Maintenance Program (BMMP) in the state.
According to official sources, NHM officials in J&K have held up the start of critical-care ambulances services under 102 and 108 helpline numbers and the BMMP even though the State-level Purchase Committee headed by Commissioner/Secretary Atal Dulloo finalised the drafts of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in January this year.
“The letter of intent was also issued in favour of two selected companies after finalisation of the MoU drafts. Two months have passed since but there is no headway in the process of implementation,” official sources said.
A senior health official privy to the tendering process told Kashmir Reader that the draft MoU documents are gathering dust at the NHM office since January, when they were sent to NHM for final approval as per the guidelines of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“After completing the tendering process and issuing the MoU documents early this year, the Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation (JKMSCL) forwarded it to the Director NHM to scrutinise them. Since then the documents are with them and without any communication from their side,” he said.
Sources further said that some officials in the NHM J&K were seeing the process as an opportune time to earn kickbacks from the companies that were selected under this process.
“The file is held up with the NHM J&K because corruption is involved, otherwise every formality has been completed by the Medical Supplies Corporation, the tendering agency. The administrative department has also the given go-ahead to the schemes as per the draft MoU,” said an official in the JKMSCL.
The 102 and 108 free ambulance services have been delayed for many years. They were finally taken up last year after the government issued fresh tenders for them for the 15th time since 2008.
Similarly, the inordinate delay in implementing the Government of India-sponsored BMMP in Jammu and Kashmir has resulted in the pilling up of over 50 percent bio-medical equipment as defunct in the last three years.
The mega flagship program, started in 2015, allows state governments to outsource medical equipment maintenance comprehensively for all equipment across all facilities. Except for Jammu and Kashmir, the programme launched in 18 states has brought desired results, bringing down the number of defunct pieces of equipment, thereby reducing the cost of care and improving quality care in public health facilities.
Spokesperson in the Health and Medical Education Department, Dr Shafqat Khan, admitted that there has been a delay in both the schemes. But he assured that the implementation of both schemes will start in a week’s time.
“Both the projects will start next week as we are only waiting for fund sanction from Government of India,” he said.
State Nodal Officer NHM, Dr Mohammad Shafi Koka, however, contradicted the spokesperson saying that the funds had already been sanctioned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
He said that NHM J&K, which the implementing agency, has been waiting for ROP (Recommendation of Plan) from the Ministry since January, which is what has delayed the implementation process.
“We have received the ROP from the ministry just recently. But we are yet to go through it due to the sudden death of our colleague. We will start to implement it soon,” he said.
Sources, however, termed the officials’ claims as delaying tactics.
“They have been doing this for past many years. Their main aim is to extract money from the selected companies,” a senior official in JKMSCL said.