The Union Health Ministry has threatened to stop fund release under the National Health Mission (NHM) to the AAP-led Punjab Government if the latter continues to convert the Centrally-sponsored Ayushman Bharat–Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) into Aam Aadmi clinics, popularly referred to as ‘mohalla clinics’.

In a letter to the Punjab Government, dated February 6, the Additional Secretary and Mission Director of the National Health Mission said the Health Ministry has warned the State Government that it will stop allocating funds under the scheme if the violation continues.

“The State has violated the provisions of Clause 10.3 and 10.10 of MoU and has stopped implementing the AB-HWC component of NHM, therefore releases to the State under NHM do not appear feasible as per provisions of Clause 13 of the MOU,” the letter by Roli Singh, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Health Mission (NHM) stated.

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The Ministry has also written to Punjab previously pointing out that it would be improper to deviate from the terms of the MoU.

“You are hereby advised to ensure façade branding of all AB-HWCs in rural and urban areas, where healthcare services are being provided with support from NHM and updated in AB-HWC portal,” Singh said in the letter.

As per the scheme guidelines decided upon in 2018, all State Governments had been instructed about the branding, colour, and coding to be used, etc. And accordingly, MoUs were entered into.

While the Centre allocates 60 per cent of the money for the scheme, 40 per cent is the State’s contribution.

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ln the FY23, Punjab has been given approval of ₹I I l4.57 crore under NHM in the ratio of 60:40 and around ₹438 46 crore has already been released so far this fiscal.

Further, the State has been provided with an approval of ₹401.12 crore under XV-FC (Fifteenth Finance Commission) and ₹145.62 crore under PM-ABHIM (Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission) for FY23.

AAP, which came to power in Punjab last year, had recently inaugurated over 400 such Aam Aadmi clinics there. The inauguration comes in the backdrop of allegations that several AB - HWCs are being converted into such neighbourhood clinics. .