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  • Comment: Health Budget 2021-2022

    Published on February 3, 2021

    Dr Gurpreet Sandhu, President, Council For Healthcare & Pharma
    There is no doubt that with this enormous jump of 137% in allocation for healthcare, the government has finally decided to put its money where its mouth is. This is a tremendous booster shot for the healthcare sector and the well being of our people. By naming health well being Innovation & R&D as two of the six pillars of the budget 2021, the government has signalled its long-term commitment to the health of our people. In addition to the National Health Mission, the allocation of 64,000 crore plus funds under the Atma Nirbhar Health Yojana must also be appreciated given the overwhelming emphasis on making India self-reliant in all spheres including healthcare. The announcement of the setting up of 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres along with 15 health emergency operation centers communicates the government’s commitment to bridging the urban-rural healthcare gap and bringing over-all improvement in the country. The new health infra scheme with a higher outlay of Rs 61,000 crore is again a praiseworthy step for the development of health infrastructure in the country.

    Dr. Dharminder Nagar, Managing Director, Paras Healthcare
    “The Budget 2021 has certainly focused more on healthcare than the previous budget. With an objective to improve healthcare infrastructure, the government allocated INR 64,180 crore will be invested over a period of six years to improve primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare in addition to National Health Digital Mission. This can lead to bringing in more hospitals under Ayushman Bharat more in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities for the benefit of the poor in these areas. One of the key initiatives proposed in this year’s budget is the addition of 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres which is again a great move towards enhancing access to healthcare. Also, the government has proposed to set up integrated public health labs in each district with 3,382 block public health units across 11 states. The outlay of INR 1.41 crore for the Swach Bharat 2.0 mission which will further help in the enhancement of sanitisation standards across the country. To effectively curb the pandemic of COVID-19, the government has also planned to set aside INR 35,000 Crore for Covid-19 Vaccine in FY22. Overall, it’s been an encouraging move from the government to promote healthcare in India with a holistic vision”.

    Mr Sunil Thakur, Partner, Quadria Capital, an Asian healthcare-focused private equity fund.
    First of all, the pandemic has made the linkage between health and the proverbial wealth loud and clear. And so, duly taking its learnings from the ongoing battle against the pandemic, without worrying about the fiscal burden, the government raising the healthcare budget by an impressive 137% is indeed praiseworthy. This implies that health is finally getting its due in the wider economic/financial scheme of things. The PM AtmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, with an outlay of about` 64,000 crores over 6 years with a focus on primary, secondary, and tertiary care Health Systems is also notable. In terms of nutrition which is a key pillar for preventive health, the merging of Supplementary Nutrition Programme and the Poshan Abhiyan into Mission Poshan 2.0 and extending it to 112 Aspirational Districts is also welcome. Then the critical role of startups including health tech startups during the pandemic has been well recognised. The extension of financial incentives to startups including extending the exemption on capital gains for another year as well as the incentivizing of incorporation of one-person companies (OPCs) though several measures is a sign of that recognition. In the backdrop of the accelerated push to digitalization, the setting up of National Digital Educational Architecture (NDEAR) will lay the groundwork for a more digitally-enlightened citizenry. However, the government could have spoken a few words on the National Digital health Mission. And as for building infrastructure in general, the sharp increase in capital budget at Rs. 44,000 is also noteworthy and signals the government’s long-term intent.

    Mr KR Raghunath, Senior Chairman, Jindal Naturecure Institute
    In the Union Budget 2021, the government announced the allocation of INR 64,180 crore, which will be invested over a period of six years to improve primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare in the country. This is undoubtedly an applauding move from the government to enhance healthcare accessibility to different parts of the country. Other than that, the government also announced the addition of 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres. To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcome, the government also plans to merge the supplementary nutrition programme and Potion Abhiyan to develop “Mission Potion 2.0” which will enhance nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts. However, considering that AYUSH systems have immense potential to tackle the rising healthcare burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India with its preventative approach, this year’s budget didn’t witness any separate funds allocated to boost traditional alternative medicine in the country which is a little disappointing. The AYUSH sector and alternative medicine played a crucial role in building the immunity of people during COVID-19. There should be more focus on creating awareness about why preventive healthcare is essential, more so with the ongoing pandemic. This cannot be achieved without a nationwide programme of educating the masses. The government could have provided funds for education and promotion of Naturopathy, which will further encourage domestic and offshore investors to put faith in the domestic market to spread the preventive healthcare system’s knowledge.