Organ transplant: 90% cut in budget

Even as the Health Ministry has introduced a series of amendments to the organ transplant Act to give a boost to the national programme, the budget for the National Organ Transplantation Programme (NOTP) has been scaled down to almost 1/10th its original provision.

According to the minutes of a June 26 meeting of health officials accessed by The Indian Express, the budget has been cut from Rs 1,648 crore, which had already been submitted to the Planning Commission for the current Five Year Plan, to Rs 148 crore a drop of over 91 per cent. As per the minutes, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr Jagdish Prasad, who chaired the meeting, said: "While finalising the budget, we should keep in mind our own capacity and the capacities of the states to spend the proposed amount." The minutes said he "was of the view that the proposed (original) budget is huge in quantity".

The ministry will no longer provide funds for new transplantation units or to strengthen the existing ones. Transplant centres are being considered the responsibility of respective institutes in states that will have to provide the funds for developing such units. The cost of dialysis units originally attached with the renal transplant programme will also be cut as "they form part of hospital strengthening", to ensure that "NOTP is not deviated from its basic objective".

Explaining this change in policy, Dr Prasad said: "The original budget was prepared under the tenure of my predecessor, and we did not find it practical. The job of the Centre is to coordinate between states, to see that organs retrieved from one transplant unit is made available to needy patients in others. We cannot take responsibility of developing nationwide transplant programmes for liver and renal transplant on our own."

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