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Delhi Budget 2021: Over 14 Per Cent Allocated To Health, Coronavirus Vaccines Will Continue To Remain Free

Delhi government’s budget outlay of Rs. 69,000 crore for the year 2021-22, extensively focuses on health including the fight against COVID-19 and air pollution. Here are the top highlights of the Delhi Budget 2021

Delhi Budget 2021: Over 14 Per Cent Allocated To Health, Coronavirus Vaccines Will Continue To Remain Free
Highlights
  • Rs. 50 crore allocated to 'Aam Aadmi Free Covid Vaccine' scheme
  • Delhi government to start 'Mahila Mohalla Clinic' from next year
  • In the first phase, 100 Mahila Mohalla Clinics will be established

New Delhi: The Delhi government on Tuesday (March 9) presented Rs. 69,000 crore budget for the financial year 2021-22. Delhi’s first paperless budget was presented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio. While presenting the seventh consecutive budget of his government, Mr Sisodia said a budget of Rs. 69,000 crore for the year 2021-22, is more than double the amount of expenditure of Rs. 30,940 crore in 2014-15. The budget outlay extensively focuses on health including the fight against COVID-19 and air pollution. Here are the top highlights of the Delhi Budget 2021.

Also Read: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start

14 Per Cent Of Delhi’s Budget Has Been Allocated To Health

Fighting COVID-19 The Delhi Way: Learning From Coronavirus Pandemic And Free Vaccination

While talking about the budget allocated to health, Mr Sisodia noted that Rs. 9,934 crore which is 14 per cent of its total estimated expenditure has been allocated to health. Mr Sisodia listed the innovative steps taken by the Delhi government to control the spread of COVID-19 disease in Delhi – home isolation for asymptomatic COVID-19 patients and setting up first plasma bank. Further talking about COVID vaccination, Mr Sisodia said, in the first phase of the vaccination drive that began on January 16, six lakh health workers and frontline warriors were inoculated. In the second phase, under which people over 60 years of age and those above 45 with comorbidities are being vaccinated.

Currently, the government has the capacity to apply vaccines to 45,000 persons daily, which will be increased to 60,000 persons per day in the next few days, said Mr Sisodia.

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

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently available for free at government hospitals and for Rs. 250 per dose at private hospitals. Delhi government has allocated Rs. 50 crore to ‘Aam Aadmi Free Covid Vaccine’ scheme under which COVID vaccine will be made available to the people of Delhi free of cost in government hospitals.

There are many who everyday have to think if they should spend money to get ration or vaccine. In the 75th year of Independence, this question should not arise. So, we have decided that vaccines at government hospitals will continue to be given for free to people, said Mr Sisodia.

Commenting on the move, Avani Kapur, Fellow Centre for Policy Research and Director Accountability Initiative, said,

While the cost in private hospitals has been capped at Rs. 250, for several lower income families especially with many members, daily wage earners and others working in the informal sector these funds are still significant. In 2015, 17 per cent of households lived on an annual income of less than Rs. 75,000. Add to that the loss of livelihood and income shocks due to the pandemic, several families are vulnerable. By removing one of the barriers in terms of access, in terms of cost, vaccination coverage should increase. This however needs to be coupled with continued sharing of information.

Taking a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi government has set aside Rs. 1,293 crore for expansion of healthcare services, including opening new hospitals, renovating old ones and augmenting beds.

Also Read: Union Budget 2021 Explained: Decoding The 137 Per Cent Increase In Health Expenditure

Mahila Mohalla Clinic: Affordable Acess To Healthcare For Women

In 2014, Delhi government had introduced ‘Mohalla Clinics’ to make public healthcare more affordable and accessible by providing free health check-ups, consultations and medicines. In its budget for the financial year 2021, Mr Sisodia proposed to start a special Mohalla clinic for women – ‘Mahila Mohalla Clinic’ from next year to ensure health access for every woman. Services of gynaecologist and related diagnostic tests will be made available for free.

In the first phase, 100 ‘Mahila Mohalla Clinics’ are proposed to be established in different parts of Delhi, which will be progressively increased to at least one clinic in each ward, informed Mr Sisodia.

Talking about the importance and need for Mohalla Clinics and now women specific Mohalla Clinics, Dr Sujeet Ranjan, Executive Director, Centre for Nutrition Security, said,

Around 20 per cent of Delhi’s population lives in urban slums, which are the hotspots of health-related problems in the national capital. In the broader context of reproductive health, safe motherhood is a critical component of the efforts to help women realise their full potential not only as mothers, but also as contributing members of society. Many community-based studies have shown a high prevalence of Reproductive tract infections (RTIs) in urban slums of Delhi. RTIs have adverse implications on the health of the women. A high case load is there and women friendly health services are needed for quality service delivery. Generating community awareness, ensuring proper menstrual hygiene, and improving the socio-economic status would help in reducing the cases of RTI.

Also Read: “Mohalla Clinics Have Revolutionized The Delivery Of Healthcare In Delhi,” Experts Laud Delhi’s 450 Mohalla Clinics

In addition to this, Ms Kapur believes, the focus of Mahila Mohalla Clinics on services of a gynaecologist and related diagnostic tests will ensure dedicated attention to reproductive and child health needs.

Several women who may be uncomfortable speaking about their health needs in a general hospital may feel more comfortable visiting one dedicated to their needs, she added.

Digital Health Care For All

Delhi Government also plans to issue a health card to every citizen of Delhi. Along with this, online Health Information Management System (HIMS), a database containing details of diseases, treatment, test reports, medicines, and other essential data of the citizens, will be set up.

The cloud-based system approach of bringing all health-related components on a single platform will streamline all the activities ranging from doctor’s appointment to hospitalisation for any treatment. The aim of the program is to create digital personal health records, which can be easily accessible and shared between the person and care providers. However, the country still lacks a robust law on data protection, the digital health initiatives need a robust data protection law to suffice these efforts, added Dr Ranjan.

Also Read: A Victim Of Poverty Herself, Ishrat Bano, An Anganwadi Worker In Jaipur Is Committed Towards Welfare Of Children In Her Area

Delhi Budget’s Special Focus On EVs To Eliminate Air Pollution

Delhi is infamous for its problem of air pollution; some of the sources of air pollution in Delhi are vehicular pollution, dust, emissions from industries and stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana. According to the Delhi government, one of the biggest steps it has taken to mitigate the problem of air pollution is the implementation of the Electric Vehicle policy from August 2020. Calling Delhi the electric vehicle capital, Mr Sisodia said,

The share of electric vehicles has increased from 0.2 per cent to 2.21 per cent. This is a major indication of the success of the e-vehicle policy. Our government has set a target that by 2024, at least 25 percent of the new vehicles to be registered in Delhi will be electric vehicles.

“At present 72 public charging stations for electric vehicles are functioning in Delhi. Soon this number will reach 500. We aim to have at least one e-charging station every 3 kilometers in Delhi. We sincerely hope that when the country is celebrating its 100th Independence Day, our Delhi will be 100 percent free from vehicular pollution”, he added.

To promote electric vehicles in the public transport sector, the Delhi government is preparing to bring 1,300 e-buses on the roads. The tender has been put for 300 Delhi Transport Corporation’s e-buses and they will hit the roads by December 2021. 1,000 new e-buses will be on the roads by the middle of next year under the cluster scheme, said Mr Sisodia.

Also Read: Delhi CM Launches ‘Switch Delhi’ Campaign, Calls To Adopt Electric Vehicle To Fight Air Pollution

Along with this, to control pollution in Delhi, it has been mandated to install anti-smog guns at construction sites. The installation of two smog towers in Delhi is in the final stage. The government is also working on a real time assessment system to monitor air, water and land pollution in collaboration with IIT Delhi and IIT Kanpur.

To protect the existing green cover and further increase it, the government is ‘Tree Transplantation Policy’ under which any tree required to cut for any project will be transplanted and it would be mandated to plant 10 new trees in place of each cut or transplanted tree.

Talking about the government’s efforts to tackle pollution and make Delhi clean and green, Vivek Adhia, Country Director – India, Institute for Sustainable Communities, said Delhi’s Fiscal Budget 2021-22 opens up, host of exciting opportunities to combat air pollution. He added,

The holistic focus, addressing construction and road dust capture, waste management, expanding green cover and managing power plants seem to augur well. This time around, though, the significant boost to electric mobility coupled with roll-out of national vehicle scrapping policies – provide a much needed opening for actively reducing transport related pollutants. Hopefully, this will motivate and influence ambitious action to also collectively reduce pollutants from other sources including industry, brick kilns, agro-residue burning and so on, for the national capital region to breathe easy.

Also Read: Budget 2021: Experts Analyse Budget Allocations For Clean Air Initiatives

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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