New Delhi: Health experts have welcomed the government’s increased allocation for the healthcare sector which has seen a substantial rise this time. Unveiling the Union Budget 2021 in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed Rs 2,23,846 crore budget outlay for health and well-being for 2021-22, compared to Rs 94,452 crore in the current fiscal, which is an increase of 137 per cent.
India currently spends about 1 per cent of the gross domestic product on health, which is among the lowest for any major economy. Sitharaman announced that Rs 64,180 crore will be invested over six years to improve primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. Read on as some health experts and healthcare providers hailed the announcements made by the Finance Minister to give a push to the health sector, from the allocation of Rs. 35,000 crores for COVID-19 vaccine to the announcement of the Mission Poshan 2.0 launch.
Here are some reactions from some health experts and healthcare providers
“It’s a great step ahead, and far-reaching budget announcement, providing Rs 35,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccination in 2021-22. The Finance Minister commitment to providing more funds in order to contain the coronavirus pandemic spread in the country and provide an effective, smooth path for the vaccination scheme will help contain, and lead our nation towards accomplishing a covid-19 disease-free Bharat,” expressed Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, which developed Covaxin, India’s first indigenous vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2.
“The layout plan of a ₹64,180 crore spending plan for healthcare over the next six years to be spent on primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, in addition to the National Health Mission is also a welcome move, which will strengthen public health services as 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres and integrated public health labs to be set up in each district. The government focus, on three areas – preventive health, curative health and well-being, is also very reassuring,” Dr Ella added.
“India’s efforts in managing the pandemic have been exemplary – our frontline workers and scientists have been working tirelessly to save lives and develop indigenous vaccines. Now the allocation of Rs. 35,000 crores for COVID-19 vaccines and more if required, makes our glorious nation stand tall as a model for the world,” said, Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group, commenting on the budget.
“After witnessing a health pandemic like never before, the Union Budget 2021-2022 had to be the most crucial one in terms of monetary allocations to the healthcare sector. We applaud the government’s approach of focusing on health and innovations which will play a key role in paving the way for advancements in the seamless delivery of preventive healthcare. The focus on developing capacities for the healthcare systems, robust infrastructures for detection and cure of new and emerging diseases will enable a faster response system to prevent any heath crisis and aid access to quality healthcare across the lengths and breadths of our nation, thus reducing the gap of accessibility,” said Dr (Prof) Deepak Agrawal, senior professor at AIIMS, New Delhi.
“The increase in budget outlay for health and welfare by 137 per cent as compared to the previous year will boost the public health and pharmaceuticals sector. The PM Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana to develop capacities of health care systems, develop institutions for detection and cure of new and emerging disease is the first step to boost rural health and keep the country ready for emergency handling of pandemic situations. The decision to include the pneumococcal vaccine is also a welcome decision, along with the announcement of Mission Poshan to improve nutritional outcomes for children. The Government has taken a much-needed step to be moving in a direction of strengthening healthcare and promoting preventive healthcare. A robust monitoring and implementation plan in place will see the initiatives achieve great success,” said Dr Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO Wadia Hospitals.
“Health, Hope and Growth, with this in mind, 2021 budget will be remembered as the Y2K moment in healthcare with FM’s announcement of spending of Rs 2 lakh crore in healthcare. While we await the fineprints, we hope sizeable amount of this would be allocated for implementation of Mental Health Act 2017 as the Budget 2021 focuses on health and well-being, physical and financial capital and infrastructure, inclusive development, reinvigorating human capital, innovation and research & development,” said Vivek Sagar, Founder & CEO, HeopeQure.com.
“The government’s focus on setting up health emergency centres, urban health and wellness centres and Integrating public health labs will go a long way towards ensuring better healthcare and treatment options. I am also happy that the Government of India has announced Rs 35,000 crore for the Covid-19 vaccine which will help lakhs of poor and middle-class citizens. I am positive that all the measures taken in this budget to make healthcare available to all, will yield a positive impact on the economy. Lastly, let’s not forget the Mission Poshan 2.0 launch that will tackle the malnutrition problems in India especially with the underprivileged and migrant population. Overall, the health and nutrition have received the focus it deserves in the budget,” added Dr Somesh Mittal, Managing Director & CEO, Vikram Hospital Bengaluru.
“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 the way for 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. Though it must be admitted that the government has re-shifted its focus on healthcare in this budget, but considering the rapid integration of digital technology into healthcare, no major developments around digital healthcare or telemedicine was announced,” said Mr Vikram Thaploo, CEO, Apollo Telehealth.
“Budget 2021 will be remembered as the game-changer for healthcare spending in India. The outlay has been more than doubled and the good news is that this will be the new normal for years to come. There is a sense of balance with an emphasis not only on strengthening the healthcare infrastructure but also on building platforms for Research & Innovation in public sector. There is focus on wellness, preventive and on curative care and also on immunization (beyond Covid). Programmes on nutrition (Mission Poshan) and sanitation (Swachh Bharat) will further strengthen health outcomes. We will have to study the detailed papers to see the envisaged role for the private sector in these initiatives – for instance in the Covid vaccination programme and in building a stronger base for innovation. Investments in digital health infrastructure is, perhaps, the only notable omission in the budget today,” said Mr Akshat Seth, COO, CK Birla Healthcare.