Healthcare Honchos upbeat about Union Budget 2020 announcements for health

‘Dil Mange More’ as well for making Healthcare for All a reality

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New Delhi: Healthcare leaders generally have given thumbs up to announcements for health in Union Budget 2020. But they have offered many suggestions for action as well.

Dr. H Sudarshan Ballal, President, NATHEALTH says, ‘Union Budget 2020-21 has accorded priority on capacity building by improving health infrastructure in Tier II & III cities and rural areas. It is promising to note that the government paid serious attention to NATHEALTH’s recommendations on capacity building in these areas. Setting up hospitals on Private Public Partnership with the provision of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) in 112 aspirational districts in the country go a long way in creating a robust health infrastructure especially in that areas where Ayushman Bharat benefits have not reached yet especially to the weaker section. We hope to see more investments into primary care and digital health to achieve the goal of Health for All. While this is a welcome move, we should earmark direct infrastructure funds and not tax medical equipment which are essential components for affordable healthcare, Private sector investments can supplement these efforts of sustainable and viable financing can be developed which leads to an expansion of the demand pool for preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services. Increase in deposit insurance, lower individual rates for middle class and change in dividend tax are welcome steps that will boost overall sector confidence”.

‘Union Budget manifests a holistic vision for healthcare. Provisions for a higher budgetary allocation is positive but in real terms, increase in health spend is just about the same as GDP growth. Hence, there is no increase in share and we will need to scale it up in future to reach 2.5 percent of GDP. However, push to new technology such as Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Technology ‘Data Centre Path’ and ‘Digital Connect,’ and enhanced Mission Indradhanush to cover new diseases and vaccines are in sync with the sector’s expectations and will go a long way to achieve the goal of Universal Health Coverage. We welcome healthcare infra being considered under the ambit of new infrastructure push and creation of a “Make in India” program to boost manufacturing of medical equipments and localization of the manufacturing and innovation value chain, ” Added Siddhartha Bhattacharya Secretary General, NATHEALTH.

Expressing his satisfaction over Union Budget 2020, Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said, ‘A farsighted budget, it is commendable that the Hon’ble Finance Minister has announced innovative initiatives that will enhance ease of living, improve the health quotient and boost opportunities for education & job creation, for all sections of our society and meet the expectations of an aspirational India.

Dr Reddy further says, ‘In the present day, an evolving healthcare ecosystem is being defined by new challenges. As the Hon’ble Finance Minister said, by 2030, India will have the largest working age population in the world and therefore, more than ever before, addressing Non Communicable Diseases(NCDs) must be India’s immediate imperative as the prevalence of these diseases is being witnessed increasingly in the younger segment of our population NCDs are responsible for two-thirds of the total morbidity burden and according to the World Economic Forum, by 2030, the world could lose over 30 trillion dollars and about 36 million people could die every year due to NCDs if rapid remedial action is not taken up. Hence in addition to initiatives announced to improve access to medical care across the nation and boost human health resources, it was encouraging that vital determinants of good health which include wellness, nutrition, clean drinking water and sanitation were at the forefront of this Budget. Likewise, the ‘Fit India’ programme championed by our Hon’ble Prime Minister personally, will certainly motivate a greater focus on fitness amongst Indian citizens.

Furthermore, we are hopeful that in the near future, a nationwide health screening programme for all citizens is initiated, which would empower every Indian with awareness about their health status and help them make lifestyle changes as needed. This is critical to prevent, avoidable mortalities.

Budget 2020 is a definitive step forward in the Government of India’s commitment to make India healthier and a model for the world to emulate.”

Dr Azad Founder Chairman & Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare, says, ‘The Union Budget, prepared in difficult Economic scenario has managed to create opportunities for growth within limited resources. It is good to see that Finance Minister has provided some benefits in the union budget for the Healthcare sector:

  1. Eradication of Tuberculosis in the country by the year 2025 is a great step towards healthier India
  2. There is proposal for viability fund gap support for hospitals in Tier 2 and 3 cities for meeting the requirement for Ayushman Bharat. This will give more accessibility to the people in the smaller cities and villages.
  3. The proposal to have PPP model hospitals in 112 aspirational districts will again increase the accessibility for healthcare to marginalized population
  4. Making 2000 essential medicines available through Jana Oushadi stores to common man.

However, it is unfortunate that the allocation of 69000 CR for the sector is only just 1% of GDP which will be highly inadequate for any major leap forward in the sector.

The budget is almost silent regarding NRIs and many of the demands and suggestions to benefit them have not been considered.

Reacting on the 2020-21 budget, Dr. Swadeep Srivastava, Founder & Mentor of HEAL HEALTH CONNECT SOLUTIONS — which stands out to be a leading organisation in India to provide comprehensive, knowledge-based communication solutions for healthcare brands, said, “The allocation of Rs 69,000 crore, inclusive of Rs 6,400 crore for Jan Arogya Yojana, to healthcare in Budget 2020-21, marks an increase from last year that will add a bountiful slice, bringing long breathing to the healthcare landscape in India. Also, the plan to expand the AB-PMJAY Yojana to set up more hospitals in the tier-II and III cities under the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model will bring efficiency in overall healthcare delivery, paving the way to create more employment opportunities to the professionally skilled work-force. Moreover, the expansion of the Jan Aushadhi scheme may further dent the branded generic medicines market in India as these medicines are cheaper than branded ones by at least 50 per cent. Indeed, these steps are laudable enough to salvage the state of potentially struggling healthcare of the country, thereby giving a gentle boost to the healthcare industry — the much-needed impetus.”

Dr Raajiv Singhal, Group CEO of Care Hospitals, says, ‘We welcome the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s emphasis on healthcare as a key agenda, and acknowledging the need to expand healthcare delivery beyond the metros and cities to Tier 2 and 3 towns.While the outlay for healthcare has been increased from INR 62659 crore last year to INR 69000 crore, we still have a long way to cover to achieve at least 2.5% of the GDP on healthcare spend.’

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