Hurdles In Fighting Coronavirus Are Lack Of Funds, Healthcare Infra: Fitch

Continued lack of medical funds and healthcare infrastructure despite additional funding poses challenges in mounting an effective response against the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report.

“The continued lack of medical funding and healthcare infrastructure inform our view for the potential epidemic to be worse in India if it is not adequately contained. With 8.5 hospital beds per 10,000 population and 8.0 physicians per 10,000, the country’s healthcare sector is not equipped for such a crisis,” Fitch Solutions said.

Moreover, the significant inefficiency, dysfunctioning, and acute shortage of the healthcare delivery systems in the public sector appear to be insufficient to match up with the growing needs of the population, it said.

Fitch Solutions noted that more than 80 per cent of the population still does not have any significant health insurance coverage and approximately 68 per cent of the Indian population has limited or no access to essential medicines.

“In addition, over the last two decades, the availability of free medicines in public healthcare facilities has declined from 31.2 per centto 8.9 per cent for inpatient care and from 17.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent for outpatient care, according to a Public Health Foundation of India study,” it said.

India has seen its number of cases increase rapidly, it said adding that the number of cases is expected to continue to rise, driving demand for healthcare services.

India’s fiscal deficit may shoot to 6.2% of GDP in FY21: Fitch Solutions

India’s fiscal deficit in 2020-21 may shoot up to 6.2 per cent of the GDP from 3.5 per cent government estimate as a fallout of the Covid-19 economic stimulus package, Fitch Solutions said on Wednesday.

With businesses disrupted due to the lockdown and its ripple effects, revenue will come under “heavy pressure” and may force the government to look towards additional borrowing and/or a higher central bank dividend to fund its expenditure, it said.

“At Fitch Solutions, we are revising our forecast for India’s FY2020/21 (AprilMarch) central government fiscal deficit to widen to 6.2 per cent of GDP, from 3.8 per cent of GDP previously (estimated by Fitch Solutions), which reflects our view that the government will miss its initial target of 3.5 per cent by a wider margin,” the agency said.

Underpinning the revised forecast are weaker revenue collection as a result of a sharp virus-driven downturn in economic activity and higher expenditures aimed at softening Covid-19’s economic shock.

Stating that weak economic activity will likely see revenue collection contract in 2020-21, Fitch Solutions said receipts may contract by 1 per cent from a growth of 11.8 per cent previously.-Business Standard

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