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Budget reaction: Vikram Thaploo, CEO, Apollo TeleHealth

The finance minister announced an allocation of Rs 64,180 crore over the next six years for the healthcare sector in the 2021 Union Budget. The budget allocated is in addition to the National Health Mission which is already in effect. One of the key initiatives proposed in this year’s budget is the addition of 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres which is a supportive move for better patient care and will also pave way for more public-private partnerships. Also, the government has proposed to set up integrated public health labs in each district with 3,382 block public health units across 11 states. Another welcoming move is the outlay of Rs 1.41 crore for the Swach Bharat 2.0 mission which will help improve sanitisation and transform the lives of millions. Considering the government’s effort to curb the pandemic of COVID-19, it has also planned to set aside Rs 35,000 Crore for COVID-19 vaccine in FY22. Though it must be admitted that the government has red-shifted its focus on healthcare in this budget, considering the rapid integration of digital technology into healthcare, no major developments around digital healthcare or telemedicine was announced. 


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