Dubai/New Delhi: The dramatic near 140 percent raise in the healthcare allocation in India budget 2021is a global story. It has transcended the border and is grabbing attention far and wide. In the UAE where NRI healthcare honchos and doctors are scripting great success stories, the healthcare spend leap is echoing. So far as public healthcare in India is concerned, it is a veritable rags to riches story.
On the other hand, back home, private health sector is celebrating the enviable position that healthcare has suddenly attained thanks to budget. They have been won over by first pillar metaphor expressed in the budget speech.
Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director , Aster DM Healthcare, said, ‘The Indian Budget has seen phenomenal increase in outlay for the healthcare sector with focus on addressing the key issues facing India today. We are glad that the total budget outlay for health and well-being has increased by 137%, standing at Rs. 2,23,846 crore. It is encouraging to see the shift in focus to prioritise preventive care and well-being, over just sick-care. As FM highlights health and wellbeing of the population is one of the core pillars to strengthen the Sankalp of the Nation-first- Atmanirbhar Bharat.
NRI keralite health honcho, Dr Moopen further said, ‘Priority has also been given to strengthen healthcare infrastructure and increase access to healthcare facilities, especially in rural areas which is the need of the hour. The pandemic put severe stress on the available healthcare systems and this move can go a long way in addressing the basic needs.
Two very positive moves for NRIs: provision to set-up one Person Company in India and elimination of double taxation for NRIs on foreign retirement funds. The provision for one-person company will allow many NRIs who want to relocate to India, to start fresh venture and earn a living, while adding to India’s growth.
India has fared well in keeping the Covid-19 death rate and active case rate one of the lowest in the world, and also emerging as a supplier of vaccines to many countries. With provisions for vaccination being made available to the population at large at the earliest, the country can move beyond the pandemic to focus on the future, Dr Moopen concluded’
Dr Raza Siddiqui, an NRI and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Arabian Healthcare Group & Executive Director- Rak Hospital said, ‘ It was heartening to see that the Budget 2021 was resting on 6 pillars with Health and Well-Being first pillar due to current pandemic. The Government recognised the service rendered by COVID warriors during the crucial months of the pandemic and has increased the Healthcare spend to Rs 2.23 lakh crore (137% increase) with a chunk of allocation to COVID vaccine and Rs 64,180 crore to be invested over next 6 years to improve primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, strengthen existing national institutions, and create new institutions, to detect and cure new diseases even at district level. The focus on healthcare in the Budget will not only provide access to basic healthcare to majority of the population but also create jobs thereby boosting the economy. Allocation towards tacking air pollution in 43 cities and introduction of vehicle scrapping policy shows the intent of government to tackle the rising air pollution which is a key element to many health ailments.
However, while these are the basic steps required for promoting health and wellbeing of the population in holistic manner the overall spend remains abysmally low at 1.6% of GDP. Most of the developed and developing nations spend approx. 5%-10% of GDP on Healthcare. Further considering the population of India even Rs35,000 budget for vaccine might be low, concluded Dr Siddiqui.
Dr Rajesh Garg and a renowned Specialist Orthpaedic Surgeon from India in Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai thinks a bit differently. In a statement to Medicare news Dr Garg though bucks the trend of overall praise but despite his different views, the budget has grabbed his attention. He says it may be a good beginning, India has long way to go in healthcare.
Dr Garg said, ‘I will not call it unprecedented as india being a vast country spending less than 1% of GDP on healthcare especially when we are among developing nations and still under pandemic situation, Rs 69,000 crore for the sector is not going to go a long way. Also the expected fall in GDP growth to mere 10% will also hit the amount of funds actually translating in health care for people. The positive side of the budget will be new innovations and skill support and more public- private ventures to develop new medical colleges and hospitals in the 2-3 tier cities will be really helpful. Moreover I am waiting for the day when each and everyone in my country is covered with health insurance, so that just getting healthy doesn’t burn a hole in their pockets and people don’t have to sell their fortune for getting back to life, just like Dubai, UAE.
Commander Navneet Bali, Regional Director, Northern India, Narayana Health in statement sent to MN said, ‘The Union Budget this year has clearly announced the paradigm shift in the way we look at the health and wellness in our country. From 137% increase in healthcare budget allocation to Rs. 64080 crore spending in next 6 years towards the PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, this is a movement towards making our country more aware about wellness and ensuring that our citizens are more productive. When a country has more productive and healthy citizens it manifests into everything that we do and this budget typically has shown a direction towards how we are headed in the next five to 10 years. Setting up of health and wellness centres in rural and urban India, having integrated public health labs, having a nationwide Pneumococcal vaccine which will prevent deaths of over 50000 children to the announcement of Rs. 35000 crore towards vaccines, I think these are very important and critical steps towards that direction.
Dr Bali further said, ‘Along with that thinking about clean air missions in 42 urban areas with a million plus population, setting up of critical care hospital blocks 602 districts in India; I think these all are very important steps which will strengthen our healthcare. I think this budget points out that along with spending on treating illness it is also better for the country to work towards wellness and make the citizens healthy and productive. In that way I think this is an extraordinary and great Budget.’
Showering praise on the way Indian government is tackling COVID pandemic, Dr D S Rana, Chairman (Board of Management) Sir Ganga Ram Hospital while talking to Medicare News, said, ‘With the onset of Budget 2021, the tide has irreversibly turned in favour of Healthy India and one can foresee the dream of quality healthcare for all in India coming to fruition. More than amazing allocation of huge fund, the die is cast by statement of intent clothed in the metaphor of first pillar in budget speech. It is for the first time that such fitting treatment has been accorded to healthcare by the government. This also augurs very well for the economy because only a healthy nation can become a thriving economy.
Dr Rana further said, ‘preparedness to confront Corona like pandemic is a must and this budget promises India will successfully be able to cope with future health crisis.137% increase in healthcare budget allocation to Rs. 64080 crore spending in next 6 years towards the PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana is simply commendable. It is excellent that focus has firmed up on preventive health.
Setting up of health and wellness centres, having integrated public health labs et al are attributes which turn around health scenario in any country. Clean air missions in 42 urban areas, setting up of critical care hospital blocks 602 districts in India are all excellent proposals.’
Dilip Jose, Managing Director & CEO Manipal Hospitals said, “ The Finance Minister has accorded special attention to the Healthcare Sector, increasing the overall outlay to health and wellbeing to nearly Rs.2.25 lakh crore, an increase of over 135% over last year. The enhanced allocation, along with the plan to look at healthcare wholistically – including nutrition, sanitation, clean drinking water and pollution control, certainly augur well for the country. The allocation of Rs.35,000 Crores towards Covid vaccination also is a very welcome step.”
“Further, the augmented government spend planned for capital expenditure by over 35% would aid job creation and growth in incomes, which would in turn enable people to spend on healthcare when required,” he added.
FM informed that Budget 2021 proposals rest on six pillars, stated that Health and Well being as the first pillar and listed the next to be Physical and Financial capital and infrastructure, Inclusive Development for Aspirational India, Reinvigorating Human Capital, Innovation and R&D Minimum Govt., Maximum Governance.
Dr Alexander Thomas, President, The Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI) said he wrote a letter in appreciation of the healthcare allocation. The letter runs as follows:
‘The Association of Healthcare Providers India [AHPI] would like to place on record its sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Honorable Prime Minister and the Honourable Finance minister, for having incorporated three of the important suggestions offered while preparation of the budget was underway.
- Strengthening of preventive care
- Enhancing infrastructure and Public Health spending
- Ensuring care of the elderly by implementing appropriate welfare measures.
The Association of Healthcare providers India on behalf of its member hospitals would like to assure fullest cooperation to the government towards working hand in hand in realizing the dream of a healthy nation.’
Reacting to the provisions made for the healthcare sector, Dr. Girdhar Gyani, Director General, Association of Healthcare Providers- India (AHPI) said, “We have been saying that emphasis on Promotive, Preventive and Primary care only can help in making of a Healthy India. One rupee spent on these 3 Ps can save five on curative care. Sanitation, Drinking water, and nutrition have a similar impact. We are happy to note that Union Budget is focused on these issues.”
“Simultaneously the Government should aggressively initiate reforms in medical education including for the nursing and allied health workforce. In terms of resource allocation and policy support amid a once-in-a-century pandemic Union Budget 2021-22 looks progressive,” he added.
PM Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana is expected to improve healthcare infrastructure in the country. It aims to improve primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. This is in addition to National Health Mission.
Welcoming the Budgetary provisions, Prem Sharma – CEO and Founder of DaytoDay Health said, “For Health and Wellness of the people the government would be focusing on three critical areas- Preventive, Curative and Wellness. Allocation of adequate funds to modernize existing healthcare infrastructure would be the best way to strengthen the sector. Govt. is strengthening National Centre for Disease Control with Its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units in PM Atmanirbhar Swastha Bharat Yojna.”
The Finance Minister said that the total COVID-19 package amounts to 13 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more COVID vaccines are also expected soon.
Dr. Tejinder Kataria Chairperson Radiation Oncology Cancer Center Medanta – The Medicity, said, ‘“It is heartening to observe the commitment of Finance Minister to bring up the health and infrastructure in the Budget 2021-22 with an emphasis on prevention strategies”.
She has taken into account the Health and Human Capital as the main resource of India and complimented that with innovation& research/ development followed by infrastructure. Spending on Infrastructure and health will ensure the long term returns over the next decade by increasing productivity, creating jobs and giving a healthy Indian population that is capable of dedicated research & development on all fronts in an innovative way.
To harness the Human capital of India, it is projected that such commitments of financial resources over the next few budgets as highlighted with a sight on years till 2025 and beyond will definitely make India progress towards becoming a fully developed Aatmanirbhar nation”
Dr. Anjali Kaul, Medical Superintendent, Artemis Hospitals Gurgaon, said, ‘India is on its way to overcome COVID pandemic. Our mortality due to COVID has been least as compared to other nations, thanks to our doctors and nurses. India is frontrunner when it comes to mass vaccination and production of vaccines against COVID. At this time, the central government’s financial support of Rs 35,000 crore for the Covid vaccine will ensure that it reaches all.
In addition, the announcement of ‘PM Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana’ will also catapult efforts to build and modernize much needed India’s healthcare infrastructure, especially in rural areas. Another laudable decision is rolling out of pneumococcal vaccines across the country, which will save more than 50,000 child deaths every year. Malnutrition still remains a challenge for our country and the announcement to launch Mission Poshan 2.0 will ensure better nutrition to the vulnerable section of the society.”
Overall, a well-meaning budget specially from healthcare perspective.