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Increase public health care budget in Maharashtra: Activists

Health care activists in Maharashtra have demanded an increase in the public health budget by one-and-a-half times and implementation of a central government’s legislation which provides for capping treatment rates in private hospitals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed loopholes in the system and several people died as they could not get proper medical attention, a group of activists, who have come under the umbrella of ‘Jan Arogya Abhiyan’, told reporters here on Saturday.

The budget session of the Maharashtra Legislature will begin on Monday.

“The public health budget should be increased by one- and-a-half times so that there are assured healthcare services in remote and rural areas,” activist Ulka Mahajan said.

She blamed poor maintenance of the public health system and lack of adequate staff for the death of 10 newborn babies in a fire at the Bhandara district hospital last month.
For 2020-21, the Maharashtra government planned to spend Rs 1,350 per person on health, but in reality, it has been inadequately spent, she claimed.

Compared to it, Goa spends Rs 6,091 while other small state like Himachal Pradesh spend Rs 3,768, she said.

“Though the approved health budget of Maharashtra for 2020-2021 was Rs 17,288 crore and there was a supplementary budget of Rs 3,069 crore, (total Rs 20,357 crore), only 50 per cent of the allocated health budget was actually spent till this month,” Mahajan claimed.

The Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, enacted by the Centre with an aim to cap treatment rates in private hospitals, should be effectively implemented in the state, Thane-based health activist Girish Bhave said. ND GK GK

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