New Delhi: In Budget 2021, ‘Health’ was given a top priority as Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an increase in the allocation for health by whooping 137 per cent. The budget for the healthcare sector was increased to Rs. 2.23 lakh crore (Rs. 2,23,846 crore) from the previous year’s budget estimate of over Rs. 94,000 crore (Rs. 94,452 crore). According to experts, as India continues to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that healthcare expenditure will continue to get a big boost and infrastructure and vaccination programme will be the focus of the Union Budget that will be presented on February 1.
Here are some of the major expectations of doctors and experts from budget 2022:
Shanay Shah, President, Shalby Hospitals says,
Last year, the government increased the allocation of the healthcare sector by a whopping 137 per cent. The mass scale vaccine roll outs across the length and breadth of India have been integral part of protecting the healthcare system in the country, in turn saving crores of lives and safeguarding the economy. This year, the government should continue to prioritise strengthening the public healthcare sector with a focus on infrastructure, managing new variants of coronavirus, administering booster shots to further strengthen the immunity of citizens.
Further talking about the core area which needs attention within the healthcare sector, Mr Shah added,
Government should lay out expansion plans to strengthen the country’s physical and digital healthcare infrastructure. The government should encourage new age healthcare services, by giving a boost to start ups and help expand telehealth ventures in the country, especially in the rural regions.
Mr Shah also said that India should encourage public-private partnerships, giving a boost to self-reliance in the healthcare ecosystem. He also said,
Healthcare R&D also needs to be a key focus, to foster innovation and encourage the rapid growth of technology centric healthcare.
Emphasising on focusing on infrastructural sector of healthcare, Dr. Ankit Gupta, Managing Director, Park Group of Hospitals said,
The healthcare sector should remain in the limelight of this year’s budget. India is facing a new challenge in the form of Omicron, and many more Covid waves are expected in the coming years. As a result, it is critical to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure. In the budget, more funds should be allocated to health expenditure. Incentives should be provided to the private sector so that they can establish Covid Care Centers. A Medical Innovation Fund should be set up to provide capital to companies promoting digital healthcare infrastructure.
On the other hand, talking about the six major areas which government should focus on this time, Praveen Sikri, CEO of Ikris Pharma Network said,
In the shadow of the pandemic and the ongoing battle against the virus, the Budget should focus on the following areas: first, healthcare expenditure as a proportion of GDP must be raised to at least 2.5% if not more. Second, in view of the rising frequency of infectious diseases, the government must allocate enough resources for genetic and genome research, epidemiological studies besides hiking allocations for general healthcare-related R&D. Third, the budget must also provide for increased investment into infrastructure-building in terms of more critical care and ICU facilities and diagnostic labs along with ambulatory and home care. Fourth, smaller towns and the hinterland too should get sufficient public and private health infrastructure. Accordingly, the private sector should be encouraged with easy and inexpensive loan availability, tax exemptions and other financial and policy support through this budget. Fifth, similar encouragement must also be extended to the pharma sector. Sixth, the budget should also earmark funds for ramping up infrastructure for medical education and training with an eye on elevating the quality and quantity of our healthcare manpower.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that 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 the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.