The state government on Friday allocated ₹5,244 crore in its budget for 2022-23 to upgrade health infrastructure, build dedicated hospitals for women and newborns, and to set up India’s first medical complex spread over 300 acres in Pune.
However, despite the Covid-19 pandemic putting a strain on the healthcare sector over the past two years, the 2022-23 budget estimates for the public health and medical education departments have remained low at 3.63% of the total budget size.
While the previous year’s (2021-22) budgetary allocation was ₹16,839 crore for the two departments, it is ₹19,920 crore in this budget. Though the allocation has increased by 18%, it remains under 4% of the total budget. This budget outlay includes existing schemes, expenditure, recurring costs, and staff salaries.
The state has proposed to upgrade 49 hospitals for which ₹1,392 crore was earmarked for construction, renovation, and other works. As part of the state’s four-year project (starting 2021) to upgrade health infrastructure, finance minister Ajit Pawar said the government will take a loan of ₹3,948 crore from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), under the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation. In 2022-23, ₹2,000 crore will be availed for this project through the HUDCO loan and ₹1,331 crore will be obtained as grant as per the recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission.
Pawar said that in 2021-22, the total capacity of beds in government hospitals across the state has increased by 1,200. “Also, specialist treatment facilities have been made available.”
The state has also planned to set up Indrayani Medicity on a 300-acre plot in Pune, making it the first medical colony in the country to have all the treatments available at one place. The project will be undertaken by the medical education department. “This facility will have hospitals, and medical research, pharmaceutical manufacturing, wellness, and physiotherapy centres,” Pawar said.
The state has proposed to construct 100-bed hospitals for women and newborns at 16 districts: Hingoli, Yavatmal, Buldhana, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Sindhudurg, Wardha, Bhandara, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Dhule, Solapur, Ratnagiri, Aurangabad and Raigad. Besides, the government has launched Shiv Arogya Yojana under which telemedical centres will be set up in each district to provide diagnostic services by doctors from metropolitan cities.
The government has also decided to increase the admission capacity for postgraduation in medical education. The state has also proposed to set up trauma care centres outside Mumbai and has earmarked ₹100 crore and ₹18 crore for recurring expenditure.
Dedicated facilities for lithotripsy at government hospitals are among other announcements. It has been proposed to start this treatment at all the 200-bed hospitals in the next three years, and for this year, an expenditure of ₹17.60 crore is expected, the minister said.
The state announced the introduction of “phaco-Phacoemulsification” – a modern treatment method for cataract surgery – at 60 government hospitals for which ₹20 crore is proposed to be provided in the first phase. Besides, eight mobile diagnostic cancer vans will be deployed in eight health circles at a cost of ₹8 crore.
Ravi Duggal of Jan Arogya Abhiyana, a collective of multiple health organisations, and also a health economist, said the budgetary allocation for the health department has gone down compared to last year.
“The health department’s allocation has been reduced by 12%, while the medical education department’s allocation has gone up by 11%. So, both the departments put together, the drop is about 6% from last year. The cut is reflected in the National Rural Health Mission, National Health Mission, other disease control programmes, and Mahatma Jyotibaphule Jan Arogya Yojana. There are no significant new schemes or programmes announced. The state’s decision to build hospitals for women and newborns is a good step. But the capacity building of 1,200 beds is too low for the size of a state like Maharashtra,” Duggal said. Hindustan Times