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Health spending to be raised substantially in next 5 years: Harsh Vardhan

India aims to increase the public healthcare spending by 345% over the current share in next five years considering the covid-19 pandemic, Harsh Vardhan, union health minister said on Sunday, while interacting with people on social media during the third episode of Sunday Samvaad.

“The government is committed to increasing the public healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP from the existing 1.15 % to 2.5 % by 2025. This will mean an actual increase of 345% over the current share in this short period of time,” said Harsh Vardhan adding that the 15th Finance Commission’s high-level group on health has concurred that healthcare spending must be raised substantially in the next five years in view of the present pandemic.

On the disparity of setting up All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in different regions and only one for the entire North East, Harsh Vardhan said that the Central Scheme Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) is aimed at correcting the regional imbalances in healthcare.

“Other than setting up new AIIMS, the scheme also aims to upgrade the existing medical infrastructure in the entire country in a phased manner. Under different phases of the Scheme, the central government will establish new medical colleges attached with existing district and referral hospitals in Dhubri, Nagaon, North Lakhimpur, Diphu, Kokrajhar Districts in Assam, Churachandrapur in Manipur West Garo Hills District in Meghalaya, Falkawan District in Mizoram, & Kohima and Mon in Nagaland,” said the health minister.

Harsh Vardhan said that the central government has added 29,185 MBBS seats in the last five years. Establishment of New Medical Colleges, strengthening and upgrading existing Government Medical Colleges, relaxing the norms for setting up of new Medical Colleges, enhancing the maximum intake capacity at MBBS level from 150 to 250 and enhancing the age limit for appointment and extension of teachers, deans, principals, and directors of Medical Colleges will help improving the doctor ratio in the country, he added.

On a question related to AtmaNirbhar Bharat Yojana, Harsh Vardhan spoke about India’s two-pronged strategy of incentivizing production and creation of common infrastructure for high-quality medicines and medical devices to make the country self-reliant.

“The government is ensuring that there is import substitution in this sector as well and that we are no longer dependent on imports; Under these newly-launched schemes, the Government has proposed the development of three bulk drug parks and four medical device parks across India,” said Harsh Vardhan.

“In times to come, we will not just be able to meet domestic requirements, but also be able to fulfil global demand for low-cost, quality medical devices,” he said that adding that in the last few months since the outbreak of the pandemic, India had made rapid strides in the “manufacturing of ventilators, PPEs, testing kits and many medical devices. – Livemint