To address the disparity between growing state population and health care facilities, doctors and health activists have demanded that Maharashtra should increase its health budget by 40% for 2017-18.
Members of Jan Arogya Abhiyan and Anna Adhikar Abhiyan Maharashtra addressed a press conference on January 23 in Mumbai, wherein they presented their demands to improve state’s health facilities. The demand has come ahead of the Maharashtra state budget, which is likely to be presented during the upcoming state budget session in March.
“Health care is an important responsibility, which the state should take charge of,” said Dr Abhay Shukla.
The activists and doctors said low health budgets are leading to lack of expansion of health care infrastructure in state, which is required with growing population and upgraded technologies. Additionally, urban health mission and shutting down of Village Child Development Centres (VCDC), Child Treatment Centres (CTC) and other efforts in most districts which are essential to tackle menace of malnutrition, must not be neglected and be on priority.
In agreement with Shukla, Dr Ravi Duggal, health activist, said, “Health budget in 2017-2018 must be increased by 40% , i.e. Rs14,600 crore or Rs1,200 per capita, which will take Maharashtra at national average of Rs1,217 per capita public health spending.”
Activists and doctors said the state should plan to match current per capita health-care expenditure of Rajasthan (Rs1,672) in next two years, which will involve near doubling of health budget. This will provide support for National Health Mission, proper implementation of Urban Health Mission and availability of free medicines in public health facilities in state.
“We have money to build a ‘Smart City’, but not for maintaining good health,” added Shukla.
Doctors and activists have prepared a list of measures that Maharashtra government should implement in coming years for better health care facilities:
- Assurance of range of free, adequate medicines at all public health facilities from sub-centres to district hospital
- Proper implementation of Urban Health Mission by providing dedicated, adequate funds and human resource
- Filling up vacant positions in public health services
- Convert contractual staffs in health system to regular appointments
- Initiate expansion of health infrastructure, which should meet 2011 population norms in coming three years
- Restart Child Treatment Centres (CTCs) and expand Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs) to serve malnourished children in all districts of the state
- Enact Maharashtra Clinical Establishments Act with patient’s rights and regulation of rates in private hospitals
- Implement a transparent public mechanism to manage free and subsidised beds in charitable trust hospitals across Maharashtra