Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her 5th address this week regarding the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package announced earlier, said that the government will be introducing a slew of reforms in the country’s health sector. The government is increasing expenditure for public health and pushing investments to ramp up the health and wellness centres in rural and urban India.
One of the major focuses of the government is to create a different block for infectious diseases in all district hospitals. Further it announced strengthening of labs and surveillance networks of the country by integrating public health labs in all the districts. With this, block level labs and public health units can manage and monitor pandemics. Apart from this, encouraging research in the health sector via ICMR has also topped the charts when it comes to health reforms. It also emphasized on implementing National Digital Health Blueprint.
As of now, Rs 15,000 crore have been spent on the India’s health sector where Rs 4,113 crore has been passed on to the states. While the government has given Rs 3,750 crore towards the essential items, Rs 550 crore has been spent on testing labs and kits. The government has also included the cover of Rs 50 lakh per person for health professionals under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna.
“Healthcare industry welcomes these strategic reforms and looks forward to working with Government on expanding Indias healthcare footprint while growing employment through private sector,” said Sudarshan Ballal, President, NATHEALTH.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the structural measures undertaken by the Government on COVID-19 management and placing public health investment as a priority. Working capital boost is required urgently for hospitals and nursing homes to avoid sectoral crisis and job loss. We also request taxation support which will scale up employment generation while keeping healthcare service delivery affordable,” said Preetha Reddy, senior vice-president, NATHEALTH.
“The central government’s decision to increase expenditure on public health, bringing us one step closer to our stated goal of spending 2.5 per cent of our GDP on health, is long overdue”, said Vikram Thaploo, CEO, Apollo Telehealth.
“To tackle this crisis as also to be able to achieve our vision of universal healthcare, we need a leap in public spending on health which includes spending on biomedical research. Private sector is playing an important role in helping the govt tackle this crisis”, said Shankar Narang, COO, Paras Healthcare.
“At least 5 per cent of the total stimulus package amounting to Rs 1 lakh crore should be earmarked for the healthcare sector. This is very important in a situation where healthcare is the epicenter of this pandemic and strengthening the private sector which accounts for 70 per cent of the healthcare in the country is important. If this is not being done, there is a possibility of many of the establishments, especially the small hospitals and unorganized sector succumbing to the effect of pandemic,” said Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & MD, Aster DM Healthcare.
“In our opinion, Aatma Nirbharta (self- reliance) in medical technology sector would be achieved, when we can make competitive products in India, when People of India can be treated in India without having to travel abroad & spending precious foreign exchange, when the tertiary care facilities will expand in the government sector too, when R&D flourishes to handle our problems as well as respond to global opportunities, when every Indian healthcare workers gets trained as well as his best global counterpart,” said Pavan Choudary, chairman and director general, MTaI.
MTaI requests the Government to:
- Commit a definitive package on developing healthcare infrastructure and procurement and to increase fiscal spend to 2% of GDP in 2020-21 and 3% by 2021-22.
- Announce special fiscal package to release all pending payments to maintain cash flow to the providers and suppliers.
- Increase patient affordability by reducing customs duty, health cess and GST on medical devices which cannot be made in India in the short and medium term, with a view to handle the Covid crisis.
- Restart the elective surgeries in all zones, with special initiative for transportation of patients and ensuring stringent safety guidelines.
- Bring down aviation fuel cost, so that cost of logistics in shipping devices across the country is reduced.
– MB Bureau