Budget 2021 Expectations for Health: Apart from Income Tax, public healthcare will remain in focus in the Budget 2021 to be presented by the Narendra Modi government on February 1. Acting as a potent shield against the deadly Covid pandemic, healthcare in India has received praise from every section of society. However, the highly contagious Coronavirus has shown public healthcare system needs to be bolstered further to ensure that the vulnerable section is not left out. This would be possible if Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman makes some bold announcements in Budget 2021 pertaining to India’s public healthcare system.
Experts of the Healthcare industry has claimed that budget allocation for public healthcare would increase in Budget 2021 as the growth of the Indian economy is substantially dependent on Healthcare and diagnostics.
“Budget 2021 is going to be the most anticipated event, especially for the healthcare sector. The expectations from the budget this year is a lot higher and different. As things stand currently, it is amply clear that the growth of the Indian economy is substantially dependent on Healthcare and diagnostics. Given the fact, the pandemic has changed the dynamics of the healthcare industry. Allocation towards healthcare in India has been a challenge in the past and the current situation reiterates the need to increase public spending on healthcare. In such a situation, healthcare infrastructure should be prioritized so that production of indigenous healthcare equipment and medical technologies can increase,” Dr. GSK Velu, Chairman & Managing Director, Trivitron Healthcare Group said.
“Budget 2021 must be designed keeping in mind the requirements of the Atmanirbhar Bharat. The significant allocation must be reserved to boost indigenous manufacturing and research in healthcare. Also, provisions in the union budget must focus on incentivizing local manufacturing of medical devices to give an impetus to the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Further to this, budget 2021 can prepare feasibility gap funding (VGF) options to further attract private sector investors in Tier 2 and 3 cities by focusing on Public-Private Partnership (PPP), and strengthening indigenous manufacturing of medical devices. India needs an efficient solution to meet the challenges of its healthcare sector, especially high public expenditure, and therapeutic technology provides the most efficient solution for this. Therapeutic technology solutions will certainly help in creating a comprehensive and integrated healthcare ecosystem in the country and will help in providing patients access to high-quality and cost-effective care. The budget needs to focus on the expansion of high-quality healthcare with the potential to make healthcare more affordable and accessible by using technology to reach the grassroots level,” Dr. GSK Velu added.
“Seven strips of Crocin in India would cost Rs 100. An equivalent purchase in the USA would cost about ten times as much. An open-heart surgery in India costs about Rs 3 lakh to the common man. It would cost more than Rs 75 lakhs in the USA. India is the world’s lowest-cost healthcare provider. The current administration is working hard to ensure universal healthcare through Ayushman Bharat becomes a reality. However, access remains a challenge in several states across India. Taiwan is arguably the best example of a small nation that has achieved true universal healthcare. It has less than 1,000 infections due to COVID-19 and only seven deaths. This is in a country with a population similar to India’s National Capital Region and an area a shade less than Jharkhand. COVID-19 has taught India’s medical community how useful technology can be in improving reach and reducing unnecessary burden on scarce healthcare resources outside larger cities. It is possible today to make smart investments to achieve universal access to healthcare like never before. And there is no better time than today to do so,” Shailesh Shah, Partner, Aksaraa Professionals said ahead of Budget 2021.
“Strategic and implementable ideas have to be brought on board to make them real in India. Strategically, as it is planned in National Health Policy-2017 of India has an intent of allocating 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2025, from existing 1.3 per cent of GDP inclusive of Public health is very minuscule compared to OECD countries average of 7.6 per cent of GDP. Lot needs to be done in an evolving way to implement keeping long term strategic intent of Healthy India. The Central Government can play a crucial role in terms of enabling health policies, programmes and resources to health. Understanding it is a state issue, policy, procedures and SOPs need to be formed by the central to evaluate the participation of states. Current pandemic brought higher allocations to schemes such as Jan Aushadhi Scheme (Rs. 50 crore currently) and Ayushman Bharat,” Dr. R.B Smarta, Managing Director, Interlink Consultancy said.
“Rs 67,484 crore was allocated to healthcare in the 2020-21 Union Budget. In Budget 2021, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect at least a 35-40 per cent boost. But will mental healthcare benefit from it? Last year, before the pandemic hit, the National Mental Health Program budget was brought down from 50 to 40 crores. India’s mental health crisis has exacerbated exponentially since then. Industry experts feel India needs to allocate at least 5,000-crore or 5 per cent of its healthcare budget to mental health. I echo the same sentiment. Now, is the time to care for India’s mental health more than ever,” Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson, Mpower, said.