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Budget 2014: Will universal healthcare be on the radar for Arun Jaitley?

Thursday, 10 July 2014 - 3:17am IST | Agency: dna webdesk

A mere 1.4% of GDP is spent on healthcare according to the Economic Survey for 2013-14 tabled in the Parliament today by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday.

The report highlighted the need for more vigorous efforts to provide quality and affordable healthcare to the country's population, particularly to the poor and the underprivileged. India is still among countries in the world that spend lowest on healthcare. "Expenditure on health is just 1.4% of GDP. A lot more needs to be done to provide quality and affordable healthcare for the large Indian population," the Economic Survey said.

However allocations for the health sector have increased over the years, it added. The central government outlay for the health sector in the 12th Plan has been increased by about 200% to Rs 3,00,018 crore over the actual outlay of Rs 99,491 crore in the 11th Plan, the survey said. The pre-Budget document said in selected parameters, the progress made in health sector, however, has been impressive.

For instance, infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births has come down to 42 in 2012 as compared to 110 in 1981. Likewise, maternal mortality ratio per one lakh live births has come down to 178 in 2010-12 as compared to 301 in 2001-03.

Survey also said two reproductive and child health (RCH) programmes-- Janani Suraksha Yojna (JSY) and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK), aim to bring about a change in three critical health indicators-- maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rate and total fertility rate.

In order to meet the increased demand for delivery care services, the initiative to introduce 100-bedded Maternal and Child Health (MCH) wings in 158 district hospitals and medical colleges has been taken up, it added.

In the budget estimates for 2013-14, India's Health sector was allocated Rs 37,330 crore, which was a meagre hike of 8.24% from budget estimates of 2012-13.

The reduction in the budget estimates which was over 15% for the health sector was caused due to lack of funds The budget estimates was brought down from Rs 34,488 crore to revised estimates of Rs 29,272.56 crore.

In his speech, the then Finance Minister Chidambaram had said, "I propose to allocate Rs 37,330 crore to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Of this, the new National Health Mission that combines the rural mission and the proposed urban mission will get Rs 21,239 crore, an increase of 24.3 percent over the Revised Estimates."

The Department of Health and Family Welfare were allocated Rs 33,278 crore, the Department of AIDS Control got Rs 1,785 crore, the Department of AYUSH Rs 1,259 crore and the department of Health Research Rs 1,008 crore.

However, the Reproductive and Child Health Project, Pulse Polio Immunisation and routine immunisation, National TB Control programme and National Disease Control Programme were left empty handed in the budget allocation of 2013.

As the Budget 2014 is  unveiled, Indian businesses have set high expectations from Arun Jaitley. Here are the key things India Inc are looking foward too:

  • Tax incentives to spur investment in research and development 
  • Simpler tax norms, including rapid implementation of GST
  • Increase tax exemption for setting up hospitals
  • Infrastructure status along with tax benefits
  • Revive clinical trials in India
  • Double healthcare expenditure to 8% in next 5 years
  • In addition to these, major boost to R&D is expected. 

With the world’s largest poor population, universal healthcare which is makes healthcare accessible and affordable is always desired.

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