Headlines of The Day
Responses to Union Budget-Day two
The FM, Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2023-4 on February 1.
For detailed coverage, https://www.medicalbuyer.co.in/fm-presents-union-budget-2023-24/
Experts find ‘Misses’ are more dominating than ‘Hits’
The Finance Minister’s the ‘Sapt Rishi’ priorities which includes inclusive development, last mile service, investment, infrastructure, youth power, green growth, and financial sector augurs well for the development of healthcare sector as well. The sector is aligned with these priorities perfectly well. However, in terms of higher financing and other expectations like setting up a regulator, long term affordable credit facilities, top sops among others, healthcare leaders and experts find that for the sector, Union Budget 2023-24 has more ‘misses’ than ‘hits.’ However, the sector is optimistic that with a pragmatic budget provisions, the government would certainly consider the long-pending demands of the sector before finalizing the Budget.
With a Budgetary allocation of Rs 89,155 crore to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the government has shown its intent to increase public spending to improve the health delivery systems in the country. Last year, the government allocated Rs 86, 200 crore. Hence, a hike of nearly Rs 3,000 crore augurs well for the efficient implementation of several key schemes and that would benefit the people. Union Budget 2023-24 has accorded priority on capacity building and setting up 157 Nursing Colleges is a clear manifestation of that. Another visionary provision include A Mission to eliminate Sickle-Cell Anaemia by 2047 and it aims at screening of 7 crore people in 0-40 years age group in affected tribal areas.
Some more industry responses have been received.
“As our nation treads towards the ‘Amrit Kaal’, GOI has laid a good focus on some of the core needs of the health & wellness sector, emphasizing the preparedness for a broadened health infrastructure and tech-aided solutions. Coming to the health tech front, the decision to offer ICMR labs & other research facilities to private players would enable faster development of domestic manufacturers. There is a welcomed focus on promoting the use of AI in health tech. The budget provided a fine move for establishing dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices with the support of existing institutions, in order to ensure the availability of skilled manpower for futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing, and research that aims at realising technical advancements in the sector. However, besides establishing 157 nursing homes, it is quite disheartening to see no further major announcements in the healthcare space.
It is disappointing that against the optimistic expectations of the medical device manufacturers, no announcement was made to attack 80+ percentage of import dependency. In this budget, local manufacturers certainly expected import duty to go up by a minimum of 10% across the range of products being manufactured in India to somewhat raise the entry barrier of externally low-cost poor quality products, which mostly use local cheap electronic components and enjoy the benefit of mass production on the cost of producing. This will work against the motivation to aggressively establish Indian medical manufacturing and feels completely against the approach of Atma Nirbhar. Looks like the GOI’s promise and focus during the COVID-19 pandemic of going aggressively self-reliant in the Medical Devices sector is diluted.” Sunil Khurana – CEO & MD, BPL Medical Technologies.
“We were also expecting some incentives for green hospital projects, PPP, provisions for long-term credit facilities, a dedicated regulator for the hospital sector and rationalization of import duty on medical equipment. Some of our expectations remain unfulfilled. However, we are hopeful that in ‘Sapt Rishi’ model of development, the government would find out some ways to consider the much-needed reforms while finalizing the Budget 2023-24, said, Anurag Kashyap, Director- Finance & Strategy, TR Life Sciences- a Healthcare Consulting Firm.
Commander Navneet Bali, Regional Director, Narayana Health-North said, “Union Budget 2023 looks progressive and inclusive for the healthcare sector. The government has taken a holistic approach by focusing on the ‘Sapt Rishi’ Model and our sector is aligned with all the seven pillars mentioned by the Finance Minister in her speech. We were expecting some measures on capacity building in the sector and it is promising to note that the government has announced setting up 157 new nursing colleges. This would enhance our capacity and fill the gap in terms of human resources. The proposed Mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047 is a very positive step.”
Sugandh Ahluwalia, Chief Strategy Officer, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre said, “ An important takeaway is a push to public-private partnership by making available facilities in select ICMR labs for research by public and private medical institutions. As we were expecting some incentives in Medical Value Tourism, so overall thrust to promote tourism, thereby extending facilities to overseas tourists, would also benefit medical tourism in the country. With the announced measures, the healthcare industry is hopeful to conduct more inter-disciplinary research, develop cutting-edge applications and scalable problem solutions.”
“The Budget encourages the industry to invest in research and development in specific priority areas. In the backdrop of ‘Amrit Kaal’ the Budget 2023-24 has identified Seven Priorities (Sapt Rishi). Healthcare is definitely aligned with all the priorities. It is promising to note that the government has made sincere efforts to increase public spending in the sector to 2.1% of GDP in FY23-24. This hike would take the government near the target of 2.5%. The increase in the Health Ministry’s allocation would help in strengthening the primary, and secondary delivery systems along with expanding Health and Wellness Centres across the country,” said Baldev Raj, Health Expert and MD, Prius Communications.
“The National Data Governance Policy can truly be a game-changer. It has the potential to unlock tremendous value from data, especially healthcare data. The Policy, along with the recently announced Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), will encourage legitimate use of data, thereby enhancing the overall privacy framework in the country.” Sohit Kapoor, Founder, DRiefcase.
“The stand-out in the Union Budget 2023-24 is the pro-digitisation approach across the board. It is a testament to the country’s commitment towards promoting digitisation, bolstered by the budget’s vision of ‘Make AI in India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’. The impact of this approach through skilling initiatives and innovation programmes is a significant boost, especially in the healthcare sector. AI is the future and encouraging research in the field, through COEs will foster innovation across sectors. Efforts through the 5G services labs in engineering colleges will also aid innovation in the country. This year’s budget has a lot of focus on skilling, education and innovation which is a step in the right direction to propel growth of the economy. Additionally, setting up 157 nursing colleges is going to help build the strength of healthcare professionals, as India progresses on the path to be a medical tourism hub for surgeries that will boost our paramedical workforce strength. Since COVID-19, India has proven its capability in research and has already earned the sobriquet of being the pharmacy of the world. With the boost to pharma research and innovation, in this year’s budget, India is set to make a bold move in promotion of drug discovery.
To add to that, the National Data Governance Policy is an excellent initiative for the start-up ecosystem. India being the 3rd largest ecosystem for startups, this will further help start-ups build sustainable and long term businesses on the back of data-driven decision-making and problem solving. It will not only empower founders to make the best use of data to grow their businesses but also help them prevent several mistakes in this journey.
While overall the budget was quite positive for the healthcare industry, we were also expecting to see more incentive programmes to promote and accelerate adoption of government initiatives such as ABDM which are essential to digitizing health records. Although private players are contributing to India’s transformative healthcare journey, government promotion programmes are imperative. Also, increased spending on healthcare infrastructure would have also improved access to healthcare to all.” Siddhartha Nihalani, Co-founder, Practo.
“The Union Budget 2023 is pivoted towards green growth, and the overall budget is optimistic for all sectors to boost the nation’s economy. The pandemic has taught us the importance of talent and the workforce. Establishing 157 new nursing colleges will support the growing need for trained healthcare professionals and cater to better hospital patient management. With a significant increase in funding to strengthen primary healthcare and expand access to healthcare services. The government’s focus on preventive health and the mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047 is commendable. It will go a long way in promoting the overall well-being of the citizens of our country. Moreover, the allocation of resources towards the development of the medical research sector will drive better innovation in the healthcare sector. We at CARE have focused on making healthcare services accessible and convenient in non-metro cities. We are glad to be aligned with the government’s vision as this budget focuses on developing infrastructure in the Tier II cities”. Jasdeep Singh, Group CEO, CARE Hospitals Group.
“We welcome the announcements made by the government in Budget 2023 particularly for the health sector. The government has taken several initiatives to strengthen the health sector in this year’s budget compared to last year. From planning a mission to eliminate Sickle-Cell Anaemia by 2047 to creating a new program for pharmaceutical research as well as providing facilities in select ICMR labs, all will be made available for research by public and private medical facilities, but some announcements to boost the area of mental health are still missing.” Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Founder & Director, Manasthali Wellness.