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Budget 2021: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Announces Rs. 35,000 Crore For COVID-19 Vaccines

Budget 2021: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented India’s first paperless Union Budget for the financial year 2021-22 and announced a separate budget for COVID-19 vaccines

Budget 2021: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Announces Rs. 35,000 Crore For COVID-19 Vaccines
Highlights
  • FM Nirmala Sitharaman presented India’s first paperless Union Budget 2021
  • A separate budget has been announced for COVID-19 vaccines
  • Health and well-being is one of the six pillar of Union Budget 2021

New Delhi: February 1, 2021 Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was India’s first paperless Union Budget. Ms Sitharamnan delivered her third budget in a row using a ‘Made in India’ tablet and announced an increased monetary allocation for health and well-being and a couple of renewed schemes for swachh (clean) and swasth (healthy) India. In an attempt to strengthen India’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs. 35,000 crore for the development and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines for 2021-22 and assured to provide more funds if needed.

Also Read: Budget 2021 Highlights: Key Announcements Made By FM Nirmala Sitharaman For A Swachh And Swasth India

Dr Rajesh Khanna, Deputy Director of Health and Nutrition at Save the Children lauded the separate budget allocation for COVID-19 vaccines and said,

This is a welcome move to break the disease transmission and add weight to our vaccine production capacity. However, it is important to ensure that the most marginalised families and communities are given priority.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India took to social media and lauded the Finance Minister for ensuring the budget focusses on COVID-19 vaccines. He wrote, “This is the best investment any country can make. A healthier India is a more productive India.”

The Serum Institute of India (SII) is the world’s largest vaccine maker by the number of doses produced and is manufacturing Oxford-AstraZeneca’s CCOVID-19 vaccine Covishield in India for emergency use.

Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania (CMAAO), said the budgetary allocation for vaccines was expected didn’t meet the expectations. He said,

The ongoing pandemic has highlighted the necessity to invest in strengthening the healthcare system in the country. Hence, this increase in allocation for healthcare is along expected lines. However, the allocation of Rs. 35,000 crore for the vaccination is lower than what was needed and implies that the government could open up the vaccines for the private sector.

In her budget speech, FM said, “I am committed to provide more funds if required. The total budget outlay for health and well-being stands at Rs. 2,23,846 crore, marking an increase of 137 per cent.”

Talking about substantial increase in healthcare infrastructure in Budget 2021, FM Sitharaman said that the government will be focusing on three areas – preventive health, curative health and well-being.

Also Read: Budget 2021 Expectations: Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic Experts Want Increased Allocation For Research, Healthcare Infrastructure

In her opening remarks, FM Sitharaman had said that Budget 2021 is based on the following six pillars – Health and well-being; Physical and financial capital and infrastructure; Inclusive development for aspirational India; Reinvigorating human capital; Innovation and Research and Development; Minimum government maximum governance.

Also Read: “Vaccine for COVID Heroes First,” Says PM Modi At Launch of Coronavirus Vaccination Drive

FM Sitharaman also said that Budget 2021 was prepared in ‘unprecedented times’ and talked about India’s COVID-19 vaccination programme which according to the government is the world’s largest vaccination drive. She said,

Today, India has two vaccines, we have begun to safeguard both our citizens as well as 100 or more countries. Two or more vaccines are also expected soon.

Further talking about the current situation of COVID-19 in India, Ms Sitharaman said,

India now has one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates of 112 per million population and one of the lowest active cases of about 130 per million population.

Ms Sitharaman also thanked the essential workers who continued to serve the country amid the Coronavirus induced lockdown.

Also Read: Economic Survey 2020-21 Underscores The Importance Of Investing In The Public Healthcare System

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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