Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed doubling health spending to 2.2 trillion Indian rupees ($30.20 billion), unveiling an annual budget on Monday aimed at reviving an economy that plummeted into the deepest recorded recession in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The allocation to healthcare in this budget has been increased substantially, FM Nirmala Sitharaman announced during the budget presentation today.
Here’s what the leading experts across sectors make of the Union Budget-
Mr Gautam Khanna, CEO, P.D. Hinduja Hospital, Co-chair FICCI Health Services Committee President, Association of Hospitals, Mumbai
The emphasis on health in the union budget 2021, brings in hope and light after the most challenging period faced by the world, especially the healthcare industry. The most overwhelming addition in the aftermaths of the pandemic is the PM’s Aatmanirbhar Health Yojana, with an outlay of 64,180 cr over 6 years.
The total outlay of 2.23 lakh crore for the healthcare budget, with a massive increase of 137% from last year is a welcome move for the healthcare industry. The infrastructure enhancements announced like setting up of integrated public health labs in each district, 12 central institutions, 15 Health Emergency Centres, critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts, 17000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres are the crucial advancements that will help us move towards the goal of providing accessible and affordable healthcare for all.
In lieu of the current unprecedented crisis, the allocation of Rs 35,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccines strengthens our motive to fight against the deadly virus for the safety and wellbeing of society.
While the increase in public health expenditure is indeed welcome, the private sector plays a critical role. We were expecting incentives for the private healthcare sector like tax benefits for setting up infrastructure in smaller towns, zero GST regime, tax incentives for substantial Capex investments incurred to fight Covid, incentives for the development of skilled manpower, which does not seem to be there. We, however, await to see the detailed budget document in this regard.
Overall it is indeed heartening to see the emphasis being given to healthcare. We believe that these allocations will provide solutions that will significantly provide safety and care to both our healthcare workers, patients, and other positive health outcomes.
Mr Rajinish Menon, Founder and CEO, Sukino Healthcare, India’s First Continuum Care Provider.
“This year the focus of the world was squarely centred on the healthcare industry. Continuing the trend, the budget highlighted the government’s holistic approach to healthcare with the allocation of 2.23 lakh crore, a 137% increase from last year under the Atmanirbhar Swast Bharat Yojana. By converging multiple fragmented health schemes into the world’s largest medical umbrella, the Government of India has indeed taken a giant step towards healthcare innovation.“
“In addition to the National Health Mission, pragmatic measures such as the investment of Rs 64,180 crore over the next 6 years will significantly improve primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. The number of free COVID -19 cases treated is remarkable given the challenging economic times faced by the country. An announcement of 35000 crore vaccines will ensure continued uninterrupted healthcare services for more people. Establishment of healthcare infrastructure in form of critical care units and hospital blocks will also help spur the growth of the domestic market growth and place India as a key player in the global markets.”
Mr Akshat Seth COO, CK Birla Healthcare
Budget 2021 will be remembered as the game-changer for healthcare spending in India. The outlay has been more than doubled & 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 the public sector. There is a focus on wellness/preventive and on curative care and also on immunization (beyond Covid). Programs on Nutrition (Mission Poshan) & 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 program and in building a stronger base for Innovation. Investments in Digital health infrastructure is perhaps the only notable omission in the budget today.
Mr Rishikesh Kumar, Founder and CEO Xtraliving
Prioritising health can help rebuild the economy. The current budget proposed PM Aatmanirbhar Swastha Bharat’ scheme with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore scheme is a landmark achievement for healthcare sector-primary preventive healthcare. The prime focus is definitely on fighting the pandemic by making the vaccine available to all and subsequently building the right infrastructure to support good health and empower professionals with the proper knowledge and skills to help people. It’s the right step to a fitter and stronger India. With the current technological advancements, we can be the hub of healthcare solutions for the world.