Experts say budget ‘positive for health care sector in India’

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's inclusion of crucial points needed to boost India’s health sector and reduce the wide gap between doctor-patient ratio in the budget has been appreciated and welcomed

The health-care experts have welcomed government’s move to strengthen India’s ailing health care sector by making prominent announcements in this year’s Union Budget.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Budget 2017-18 today (February 1) in Lok Sabha. In his speech, Jaitley announced government’s action plan to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025, Kala Azar and Filariasis by 2017, Leprosy by 2018 and Measles by 2020.

Jaitley mentioned that the government plans to bring down infant mortality rate to 28 per 1,000 live births by 2019 and maternal mortality rate to 100 by 2020.

“This is a positive budget for health care and it focuses on India’s fight with non-communicable diseases like diabetes, obesity and hypertension. These diseases needed a strong action plan and I am thankful to our finance Minister to include an action plan for poor health situation in India. The budget stated that 1.5 lakh health sub-centres will be transformed into health and wellness centres, and I’m eager to know more about this,” said Dr Ramen Goel, Senior Bariatric Surgeon and Director, Center of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, Wockhardt Hospitals.

He said revision in cost of medical devices is an appreciable move as will ensure that health-care facilities become affordable in India.

The Budget has proposed to add 5,000 more post-graduate medical seats per annum. Giving a thumbs-up to budget, Dr Ramakanta Panda, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Asian Heart Institute, said it will encourage reputed hospitals across the country to start courses.

“I welcome the move to restructure regulatory framework for medical education, as it is sorely needed to put an end to corruption and heavy capitation fees. Also, allocating Aadhaar card based smartcards to senior citizens to monitor health is a positive move towards digitisation of medical records in India,” said Panda.

He also approved of new rules for medical devices, which aims at attracting investment in health sector and will cut down cost of devices.

“This is a critical step which will help health care facilities reach common man of India,” he added.

Gautam Khanna, Chief Executive Officer, PD Hinduja Hospital and MRC, said, the Budget 2017-18  has given India’s health care sector the boost which it needed and has all the points which were on the wish list for long.

“World Health Organisation (WHO) states that every country needs to have an average of 2.5 doctors per 1,000 people, however, we have a ratio of 0.7 doctors per 1,000. The government has taken some crucial steps to close this gap. Introducing 5,000 post-graduate seats every year, encouraging private and district hospitals to roll-out DNB medical courses, strengthening PG teaching in select ESI and municipal corporation hospitals and commitment to take necessary steps for structural transformation of the regulatory framework of medical education and practice in India are encouraging announcements. We were looking for this kind of support and boost to successfully close the ratio gap,” said Khanna.

Salient features of the budget on health care

Union budget2017