This budget for healthcare is the lowest since 2012 – 2013. This does not send the right message at all, at a time when we are talking about proportionately increasing the budget in terms of GDP.
India has had a history of underutilising the health budget and the Finance Minister has failed to address this huge gap. Allocation of funds is an issue but the larger issue is there being no proper system to make sure that the budget is used in the right arena.
The finance minister has rightly linked cleanliness and Swachch Bharat Abhiyan with preventive healthcare.
Increasing the health insurance premium exemption to 25,000 is a welcome change. But there is a clause of Rs 5,000 for Preventive Health Checkup. There is no clarity on the breakup. The government’s vision of including every citizen in the ambit of health insurance is progressive, but that can only work in tandem with preventive healthcare.
The proposition of five new AIIMS is promising and we are glad that the government is stepping up the healthcare infrastructure in every state. The government has also promised quality medical facility in every city, village and district by 2022. We hope that the government will look at effective public private partnership to achieve this ambitious vision at such a short period of time.
In the previous budget, the government had come up with a vision ‘Health for All’. But unfortunately with the proposed budget, it still seems to be just a vision statement. Lastly, I strongly propose that going forward healthcare budget should be a separate component like the Railways budget so that healthcare gets the significance that it deserves.