The World Bank has yet again expressed concern over corruption affecting implementation of its health projects in the country. A recent probe by the organisation has revealed unacceptable indicators of fraud and corruption. A review sanctioned by GOI and World Health Bank into a project funded by the latter has found how Ministry of Health and Family Welfare headed by Anbumani Ramadoss, indulged in corruption, interfered in procurement of equipment by state laboratories, disregarded and pressured expert opinions and awarded contracts to its favourites.
Detailed implementation review (DIR) of the ongoing five year old Food and Drugs Capacity Building Project(FDCBP) says that the health ministry has ordered equipment for state labs on its own, streamrolled opposition from experts and did not explain the reasons behind its decisions. The detailed review of Indian projects was prompted by World Bank investigation in 2005 into a reproductive & child health (RCH1) project. It found corrupt practices by two pharmaceutical companies that were subsequently debarred by World Bank and the government.
The DIR indicates corruption in 87% of the procurement of lab and third of the civil works undertaken by private contractors for laboratories.
The review claims that substantial payment had been made for almost half of the contracts where equipment was undelivered, delivered in damaged state or delivered with missing parts. While the government has said it is committed to fighting corruption in the projects, finance minister P Chidambaram has been categorical in emphasising that the Bank must not link corruption and further disbursals for projects in the country.
Anbumani Ramadoss is becoming an embarrassment for UPA and is time for some action from our PM. Anbumani Ramadoss has been in loggerheads with medical fraternity throughout his tenure. The medicos are all fired up now and clamour for Dr Ramadoss's head is raising voice. The students have planned some sort of protest in major centers across the country on 26th January.
The five projects covered by the DIR include the $114-million Malaria Control Project, the $82.1-million Orissa Health Systems Development Project, the ongoing $54-million Food & Drug Capacity Building Project, the $193.7-million Second National HIV/AIDS Control Project and the $124.8-million Tuberculosis Control Project. Of these, four were central-sector projects and one state-sector project.
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