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Healthcare Budget 2020

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There is a need for more business-friendly policies

Obaid Abdul Aziz, Founder, Medicalwale.com

We applaud the interest of the government to work towards the betterment of the healthcare sector, but at the same time, there is a need for more business-friendly policies to aid companies that are changing the way sector has been traditionally functioning in India. Today, you can order medicines at your doorstep get lab tests done at home, book appointments with doctors at your finger-tips. Despite initiatives and policies to make insurance available to masses, there is still a burden of out of pocket expenses on people. With the announcements made in the Union Budget 2020 to increase the budget allocated to the healthcare sector, we hope this financial year witnesses a sea change for companies that are using technology and digitising the healthcare industry. The announcement to seed fund early-stage Indian startups will enable mHealth platforms and online aggregators to do business with ease with the right implementation of policies. There is an urgent need to give access to health and fitness facilities to Indians with transparency, accessibility and affordability.

Taxes levied on medical devices to boost the health infrastructure in Tier-II and III cities is a smart move

Nikhilesh Tiwari, Founder & CEO, ColMed

The government’s decision to use the proceeds from the taxes levied on medical devices to boost the health infrastructure in Tier-II and III cities is a smart move. It will help increase the access to quality healthcare in underserved areas, which will, in turn, increase the sale of medical devices. As such, the plan is sustainable and will be beneficial to all the stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem. While the government’s recent decision to regulate the price of medical devices and slash the import duties on raw materials is a step towards making healthcare more accessible, it should also incentivise research and development to support local manufacturing. Since most of the medical devices are replaced by a newer model once every two years or so, the major medical device manufacturers spend more money on research and development compared to other industrial firms. Since the payback period is shorter, the central incentive will more than help foster innovation in the sector and increase the quality of healthcare service delivery.

It is a good budget for the educational sector

Saju Bhaskar, Founder & President, Texila American University

The government focussed on addressing the prevailing gap in the Indian medical education system. And announced the most significant step by appending medical colleges with district hospitals on PPP Model (Public-private partnerships). By bringing more such PPP models, the cost of medical education will come down, become more qualitative and will help our country to address the demand for doctors. This will encourage more competition in the segment thereby enhancing the quality among medical institutions.

Structuring the partnership mechanism will allow private investors to come in. The new education policy should address the pressing issues of private investment, restructuring norms may allow more new private medical colleges to enter the segment. If the new policy can also consider allowing private institutions to list in the exchange, they can create private education loans that can fund students deserving. It is welcoming to know about the special courses designed for nursing, para-medical staff and caregivers. It is a good budget for the educational sector particularly for the medical education sector going forward.

The step to provide medicines at affordable rates is the need for the hour

Nitiz Murdia, Marketing Director, Indira IVF

The rise in the budget allocation for this year will definitely help the healthcare sector to grow. Better healthcare facilities were the need for tier-II and tier-III cities. The step to provide medicines at affordable rates is the need for the hour, especially for the economically weaker section of the society. However, the insurance coverage remained poor leaving higher expenditure struggle for people. The accessibility of the healthcare services for people will increase with the focus on the infrastructure. More was expected from the government for the healthcare industry as it is directly related to the citizens’ existence.

The budget is expected to improve the health and wellbeing of the population

Prasun Sikdar, MD & CEO, ManipalCigna Health Insurance

The Union Budget has focussed on improving the healthcare needs of the masses, this is expected to improve the health and wellbeing of the population. The allocation of Rs 69,000 crore to healthcare will enable further reforms in the sector, and create employment opportunities. The larger focus on Ayushman Bharat and Mission Indradhanush will increase access to quality health care services, particularly in Tier II – III cities. The government’s move to expand Jan Aushadhi Kendras will make medicines more affordable, while the initiatives to eliminate tuberculosis and foot and mouth disease will certainly improve health and longevity in the country going ahead.

The budget will help to improve the accessibility of quality healthcare

Dr S Chandrakumar, Executive CMD, Kauvery Hospitals

It is really encouraging that the government is trying to promote the growth of hospital infrastructure through PPP mode across 112 districts in tier-II and tier-III cities, through Viability Gap Funding Window, which will help in improving the accessibility of quality healthcare. We are happy to see the support extended towards developing and improving the skill sets of teachers, nurses, para-medical staff and care-givers.

The announcement to boost Artificial Intelligence is a great step to strengthen the usage of technology in healthcare

Chander Shekhar Sibal, Senior Vice President, Fujifilm India

We congratulate the government on presenting the Union Budget 2020 for the common man and it’s encouraging to see that the government has taken the lead to deliver on its promise of excellence in healthcare. The government’s TB Harega, Desh Jeetega initiative to eradicate tuberculosis by 2025 is a significant step towards building a healthy Society. India being the highest recorder of TB cases in the world makes it imperative for us to understand the high risk of catching the disease. The government’s vision aligns with our mission to raise consciousness and promote advanced diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis among patients. Additionally, the government’s impetus on boosting the domestic manufacturing of electronics and medical devices in the country will reinforce the commitment towards raising awareness for early detection in India. Apart from this, the announcement to boost Artificial Intelligence is a great step to strengthen the usage of technology in the field of healthcare while intensifying the quality with accessibility and affordability. We believe that the government has put forward a progressive budget with a strong vision to take India’s social, economic and overall well-being to greater heights.

Budget 2020 brings in very positive growth for healthcare delivery

Dr Alok Roy, Chairman, Medica Group of Hospitals

The government has shown its commitment towards a healthy India by providing Rs 69,000 crore to the healthcare sector. It has rightfully focussed on bringing in several key structural reforms for the nation moving towards that goal. It is heartening to see the government’s display of commitment and concern towards rural healthcare by announcing more empanelled hospitals under the flagship Ayushman Bharat Scheme in Tier-II and III cities. The budget has rightly outlined by specifically focussing to those areas where there are no hospitals. The proposal to set up viability gap funding window to build hospitals in the public-private-partnership (PPP) model will widen the scope of the government’s flagship scheme, AB-PM-JAY and will provide large scale employment opportunities to youth.

It is encouraging to see the government’s support towards manufacturing high-end medical devices under the Make in India programme. This will increase affordability and ease of access in procuring the equipment. On the other hand, the announcement of cess on import of medical equipment will be used for creating an infrastructure for health services in the aspirational districts is accepted as a welcome move.

The allocation of ₹3000 crores for skill development which also includes hospital staff, caregivers and paramedical staff increasing competency in the healthcare sector, is encouraging.

The expansion of the Jan Aushadhi scheme is a move to make affordable healthcare at the doorstep of the common man. Budget 2020 brings in very positive growth for healthcare delivery in the country. This is not a populist budget, but a budget that has a far-reaching positive impact on the healthcare sector.

The focus on wellness and preventive healthcare are encouraging 

Ameera Shah, Promoter & MD, Metropolis Healthcare

There are two good highlights of the budget for the corporate sector. 100 per cent tax emption for sovereign wealth funds for their investments in the infrastructure sector is expected to give a boost to the infra investments in India. The tax dispute settlement scheme is a positive move that has the potential for quick fund infusion into government coffers before March-end. There are also several welcome measures to give the start-up sector a big boost. With the tax changes for the middle class, the already complex tax framework has become even more complicated.

The budget did not provide much relief for the healthcare sector. The increase in overall outlay to Rs 69,000 crore, up from Rs 62,659 crore last year, is clearly inadequate considering the health challenges facing the country and the stated goal of turning India into a caring society. The viability gap funding window for setting up hospitals in 112 aspirational districts and establishing medical colleges in district hospitals are significant steps to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. The focus on wellness and preventive healthcare are encouraging. The initiatives announced, such as Rs 35,600 crore for nutrition-related programmes, will help reduce the disease burden and improve maternal mortality rate over the long term.

With respect to the scheme related to medical devices, unfortunately, we still do not have the indigenous capability to manufacture high-quality devices here in India and thus by imposing cess, it will ultimately make healthcare services more expensive.

The government needs to relook at the pricing of super-speciality care which remains very low

Suresh Ramu, Co-founder and CEO, Cytecare Cancer Hospitals

Empowering Asha worker’s time track nutrition and wellness of women can be very powerfully deployed for early detection of cancer. And with smartphones being provided, wellness and cancer prevention programmes can be pushed.  Use of smartphone technology and the specific mention of Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning is very encouraging as this truly can change the way India deals with the growing cancer disease burden. 

Creating tier-II and III city hospitals that provided care under Ayushman Bharat is laudable, and yet the government needs to relook at the pricing of super-speciality care which remains very low. Increased taxes on medical devices is proposed to be used for this and this can further increase the cost of delivery of private healthcare. 

Creating infrastructure and the focus on bridge education for nursing and paramedical talent is a good move and can actually address the healthcare gaps being faced.

The government has outlined a holistic vision of healthcare

Dr Debraj Shome, Cosmetic Surgeon & Director, The Esthetic Clinics

Our finance minister seems to have outlined a holistic vision of healthcare. Interested in seeing how it plays out on execution though. Given the overall growth concerns, it would have been nice to extend a stimulus to the middle class to spend, by decreasing and rationalising personal tax rates further.

Increasing tax deductions and relaxation of taxes on ESOPs will contribute towards the growth of the start-up ecosystem

Malay Dikshit, Founder & CEO, Piscium Health Sciences

It is a great budget for start-ups — especially focussed on the manufacturing sector. The announcements on setting up knowledge and technology clusters to empower start-ups as well as National Mission on Quantum Technologies and applications will potentially set a new direction for aspirational entrepreneurs in the country, going forward. At the same time, increasing tax deductions and relaxation of taxes on ESOPs will too contribute towards healthier growth of the start-up ecosystem in the country; and like me, will empower several professionals to cherish their dreams of being business owners.

Budget 2020 is an honest and good step for improving health services

Dr Ravi Gaur, COO, Oncquest Laboratories

Budget 2020 is an honest and good step for improving health services. The holistic approach to healthcare with a strong focus on wellness, nutrition, environment including drinking water, sanitation etc, which play an important role on the health of an individual, is well appreciated and can work wonders in the long run, if implemented well. The use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics etc, for preventive healthcare, is a good innovative approach. An attempt has been made to provide better access to medical care across geographies and to create skilled human health resources. It is a very positive step and in the right direction to fulfil healthcare aspirations of India. This will go a long way in creating a robust health infrastructure and benefit all. It’s a very good idea to tax imports of medical devices which will help not only in funding the capacity building of healthcare delivery but also a boost to manufacturing in India. Overall a satisfactory healthcare budget in the right direction.

Medical devices received a good amount of attention in this budget

Sameer Sah, Partner, Khaitan & Co

Medical devices received a good amount of attention in this budget. Whether it be the scheme to encourage manufacturing or the health cess proposed on imports. The health cess will add to pricing pressures for these manufacturers and is unlikely to be popular with the foreign manufacturers.

India imports significant parts of its medical devices requirements.  While 100 per cent FDI in medical devices manufacturing has been open for a while, it remains to be seen how the new scheme for electronics’ manufacturing will play out and more importantly how will this scheme be customised to encourage medical devices manufacturers to make in India.

This is a step in the right direction for improving health and timely diagnosis

Arjun Ananth, CEO, Medall Diagnostics

We laud the gesture of the Government of India to allocate Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector in FY 21. We welcome the government’s move to set up two National Science Schemes for the production of medicines. The government’s gesture will open hospitals in tier-II and tier-III cities which still do not have an Ayushman-empanelled hospital. This is a step in the right direction for improving health and timely diagnosis.

The budget will definitely take us a step closer to achieving an egalitarian healthcare system

KR Raghunath, Senior Chairman, Jindal Naturecure Institute

The budget will definitely take us a step closer to achieving an egalitarian healthcare system and reduce the disease burden of non-communicable diseases. However, we are not going to be able to achieve universal health coverage with traditional approaches alone. We also need to harness the preventive health benefits of alternative medicine systems to tackle the rising NCD surge. It is high time the government seeks the expertise of the stakeholders in the industry and come to a decision on the regulatory policies and standardisation protocols that will promote the judicious use of alternative medicine. It will also promote research, randomised control trials and help lay the foundation for integrating them into the traditional healthcare setting so that patients stand to reap their benefits.

The government must ease the rules and regulations to help set up more medical institutes

Savitha Kuttan, CEO, Omnicuris

The finance minister’s decision to increase the budgetary allocation for education and upskilling in the medical sector was a long-expected and welcome move. We expect more clarity from the government on its plan to increase graduate and postgraduate seats in medical education. The government must ease the rules and regulations to help set up more medical institutes, which will help produce more healthcare professionals and fill the gap.

The private sector has long been looking for incentives to increase health investment in underserved areas, and this move is clearly an invitation from the government seeking their involvement. The decision to use the taxes levied on medical equipment to boost the health infrastructure in tier-II and tier-III cities is also a sustainable move as it will increase healthcare accessibility, and in turn boost the sale of medical devices. If these measures are followed up with tax breaks for private players looking to invest in underserved areas and government help in land procurement, it will make a world of difference to people without access to quality healthcare.

We are glad to see the government’s plan to increase the number of medical colleges at the district level

Shireesh Sahai, CEO, Wolters Kluwer India

We commend the government’s focus on strengthening the healthcare sector. We are glad to see the government’s plan to increase the number of medical colleges at the district level with special training packages for doctors. This will help in reducing the shortfall of trained healthcare professionals in the country. We hope that the government will accelerate the implementation of the country’s digital health infrastructure as envisaged in the National Digital Health Blueprint. Also important is the investment in digital tools to supplement the new competency-based curriculum as part of the special training packages for doctors. We also believe that investment in evidence-based health technology solutions if provided in medical colleges and hospitals, can significantly improve patient safety and health outcomes

We congratulate the government for presenting a forward-looking and dynamic budget

Anuj Gulati, MD & CEO, Religare Health Insurance (RHI)

We congratulate the government for presenting a forward-looking and dynamic budget that takes into account the financial as well as the healthcare needs of the nation. The government’s vision across various healthcare initiatives such as Ayushman Bharat, Mission Indradhanush and the Jan Aushadhi scheme will give desired impetus to the sector and also increase access to quality healthcare services. Tax benefit proposals will significantly benefit the middle class comprising of self-employed, small businesses, traders, salaried class, pensioners and senior citizens.

It’s imperative to have a proper plan of action to bring the necessary change in healthcare as targeted in the Ayushman Bharat campaign

Gerald Jaideep, CEO, Medvarsity Online

The 2020 budget allocation for healthcare is perceptibly moderate with a vision of some good opportunities for the medical fraternities and some cons that need to be addressed. The PPP model to deal with the shortage of doctors as proposed in Budget 2020 is going to be substantially beneficial to the Indian healthcare sector. The tie-up of medical colleges with district hospitals for increasing the number of doctors that provide care to the patients will enhance the overall quality of the Indian healthcare ecosystem as this will lead to a greater number of skilled doctors in the Indian medical fraternity.

The penetration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as mentioned in the budget is going to bring a revolutionary change in the operations at healthcare facilities. While the budget allocation for healthcare is declared as an overpromised Rs 69,000 crores, it’s imperative to have a proper plan of action to bring the necessary change in healthcare as targeted in the Ayushman Bharat campaign.

The budget also promises a viability gap funding for hospitals and medical colleges to provide doctors with more DNB and FNB courses under the NBE for bridging the skill-gap in the Indian medical fraternity. However, the funding misses on a stern action plan to produce results.

Nupur Khandelwal, Co-Founder, Navia Life Care

While acknowledging the importance of Indian startups in job creation, Finance Minister Nirmala

Nupur Khandelwal, Co-Founder, Navia Life Care

Sitharamanan proposed several measures to boost the startup ecosystem like establishing a seed fund for early-stage startups and deferment of tax on ESOPs given to startup employees. This, for sure, will help startups like ours to attract and retain talent.

From the healthcare sector perspective, accessibility issues were addressed and setting up of more hospitals in tier II and tier III cities under the PPP model for the expansion of the Government’s Ayushman Bharat scheme is a step in the right direction. It would assist health-tech startups to expand its reach to tier II and tier III cities.

Also, even though the budget allocation of Rs 69,000 crores to the healthcare sector represents about a 10.5 per cent jump from 2019 in absolute terms, India’s public healthcare spending still stands at a little over one per cent of GDP and it has a long way to go in comparison to other developing countries where public healthcare spending stands at around 2-2.5 per cent of GDP.

Budget 2020 promotes the growth of digital technology and enhances data management capabilities

Abhishek Shah, CEO, Wellthy Therapeutics

Good to see additional attention on this year’s budget on healthcare with respect to previous years. Disappointing to see an overall increase of only 10 per cent when what is needed is 100 to 200 per cent, to combat the growing burden of chronic diseases in this country. While the use of AI for identifying the right patients is a key move in the right direction, the real application lies in the use of technology to treat these patients once identified, to improve their health. It’s also good to see the specific focus on nutrition and lifestyle in this year’s budget, and I look forward to seeing the implementation of that to improve the state of health in chronic illnesses like cardiology and diabetes where the role of nutrition is critical. We appreciate the government’s focus on healthcare management and infrastructure. The Finance Minister spoke about using machine learning and AI in the Ayushman Bharat scheme to target diseases with an appropriately designed preventive regime. The budget 2020 also promotes the growth of digital technology and enhances data management capabilities, which are welcome moves. I believe the encouragement provided to start-ups and setting up investment clearance and advisory cells will open more avenues in digital health.

Increasing turnover threshold limit to Rs 100 crore for early-stage companies is also commendable

Ram N Kumar, Founder, Nirogstreet

The government has committed itself to increase the wellness infrastructure of the country by implementing 1,000 more hospitals under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). The Finance Minister announced that every district hospital will have medical college attached to tackle the shortage of doctors and nursing staff. Special training packages have been proposed to bridge the gaps in skill requirements. The FM also proposed to expand Jan Aushadi Kendra (JAK) which will increase access to medicines by many folds. This apart, the budget also focussed on encouraging domestic manufacturing of medical equipment which would be a huge boon for the country’s health industry.

With the launch of a dedicated digital platform for Intellectual Property Protection, Indian start-ups would be encouraged to innovate more for the benefit of the nation and the world. The announcement of providing direct seed funding by the government to early-stage startups will nurture the ecosystem. Increasing turnover threshold limit to Rs 100 crore for early-stage companies is also commendable.

Indian heartland continues to wait for affordable diagnostics

Suresh Vazirani, Chairman and Managing Director, Transasia-Erba Group

Allocation of Rs 69,000 crores to the healthcare sector is surely a welcome step, including the new TB harega, Desh jeetega project to eradicate TB by 2025.

It’s good to know that the government plans to expand the Jan Aushadi Kendras (JAKs) to all districts to provide medicines at affordable rates. On the same lines, the government needs to develop some mechanism that provides affordable diagnostics as well. The announcement of allocating Rs 3000 crore towards skill development is a greatly welcome move. This will address the shortage of skilled manpower crucial for penetration of diagnostic centres in rural India.

However, the budget doesn’t address some of the immediate concerns of Indian families with respect to medical costs and expenditures. The diagnostic segment, which is taxed much higher than medical services, needed relief by reducing their tax bracket. That has not been done and resultantly the common man will continue to spend high amounts on basic and advanced diagnostic tests.

We have been demanding a reduction in the GST rate on medical supplies, diagnostic equipment, and devices from the current 18 per cent to five per cent. That would have helped in making affordable healthcare a reality.

A holistic vision of healthcare

Dr Debraj Shome, Cosmetic Surgeon and Director, The Esthetic Clinics

Our finance minister seems to have outlined a holistic vision of healthcare. Interested in seeing how it plays out on execution though.

Given the overall growth concerns, it would have been nice to extend a stimulus to the middle class to spend, by decreasing and rationalising personal tax rates further. It is impossible to tax four per cent people to fund the whole population and the government should have looked to concretise steps to widen the tax base.

Five per cent cess on custom duties for import on medical devices is against the basic ethos of PMJAY

Sanjay Bhutani, Director, Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI)

A five per cent cess on custom duties for import has been imposed on medical devices in the budget which will increase the cost of the imported medical devices. Ultimately, patients will bear this cost and affordability will decrease. This is against the basic ethos of PMJAY wherein government wants to provide affordable healthcare for all. This is a retrograde measure and goes against the global companies which provide more than 80 per cent of the critical care medical devices as well as the patient who gets exposed to the danger of smuggling of these low bulk and high-value devices, without service and legal guarantees from neighbouring countries where the tariffs are already lower. The domestic self-sufficiency argument of the government also needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We do hope the government has not looked at the classes of products on which it plans to impose this cess, monolithically. As many subcategories of these classes would not be manufactured in India at all.

Increase in allocation to the healthcare sector is welcome, but the budget seems to be silent on implementation of insurance cover on mental health issues

Dr Vispi Jokhi MS, CEO, Masina Hospital, Mumbai

An increase in allocation to the healthcare sector, to Rs 69,000 crores, is always welcome. However, in proportion in GDP, I hope that they can reach at least up to 2.5 per cent of GDP for healthcare.

With regard to the Public-Private Partnership – PPP model, it is a welcome move, especially for charitable hospitals like ours. Areas like burns care and mental health care units, which are deficient areas, even in a metro city like Mumbai would benefit hugely from this initiative.

The major cost of burns care is related to medicines and surgical consumables. The availability of these is through the ‘Jan Aushadhi’ outlets on a consistent basis with quality assurance, that would go a long way in reducing the cost of burn care.

The budget seems to be silent on implementation of insurance cover on mental health issues, which has been spoken of for a long time.

Increasing the budgetary allocation for the healthcare sector to Rs 69,000 crores will enhance primary health coverage and strengthen health and wellness centres

Dr GSK Velu, Chairman and MD, Trivitron Healthcare

Budget 2020 is visionary and in accordance with the policy of improving and expanding healthcare services reach to all. The ‘Make in India’ initiative for the medical devices industry has been given a big boost. Imposing health cess on the import of medical devices will help domestic manufacturing companies.

Further, using tax proceeds to fund the creation of healthcare infrastructure will help in addressing issues of capital requirements for building healthcare infra in tier I and tier-II cities.

The government is focussed on creating the healthcare infrastructure and invest extensively in improving healthcare services in tier I and tier-II cities in the country. Announcement of extending the ambit of Ayushman Bharat through the establishment of PPP model hospitals in 112 new districts of India will improve healthcare infrastructure.

Increasing the budgetary allocation for the healthcare sector to Rs 69,000 crores will enhance primary health coverage and strengthen health and wellness centres (announced under Ayushman Bharat) which will help to reduce the disease burden.

Pranav Anam, Geneticist, Founder, The Gene Box

A boost for startups and genetic science

While many of the founders of startups are from tier II and tier III cities, many of them move to tier I cities to set up their business. According to data, only 20 per cent of Indian startups operate in tier II and tier III cities and only five per cent of 338 active angel investors in India have a presence in tier II cities, investing $1.3 billion between 2014 and Q1 ’19. This points at a divide in terms of both opportunity and funding that may have stopped many innovative ideas before formal inception, including those of potential women entrepreneurs who are battling inequalities at many different levels anyway. There is a need to ensure the expansion of opportunities and funding to these areas to promote an even growth of the startup ecosystem in India.

The government acknowledged the genetic landscape as a critical field is encouraging, and the introduction of national-level science schemes will add the must-needed boost to the field. Data is the most critical aspect of any empirical study and such databases will add to the comprehensive understanding of the Indian genetic landscape. We are hopeful that it will make people aware of the role of genomics and other genetics-oriented fields in mitigating health risks and other benefits.

Significant measures are taken to lay focus and cater to the needs of the healthcare industry

Gautam Khanna, CEO, PD Hinduja Hospital & MRC

I am pleased that the government has taken significant measures to lay focus and cater to the needs of the healthcare industry. Our existing TB programme at the hospital will further help the country strengthen its fight against TB and support government’s campaign TB Harega, Desh Jeetega. The schemes introduced to provide assistance to 20,000 empanelled hospitals under the flagship of Ayushman Bharat in tier II and tier III cities will benefit to make healthcare accessible and affordable to the citizens. Our hospital is currently also supporting the prime minister’s dream project.

We are delighted with the budget allotment of Rs 3,000 crores for the skill development sector which has also been a foray for PD Hinduja hospital & MRC, this will help to further develop skills of Indian healthcare practitioners to match the international standards. Also, district hospitals being attached to medical education institutes is a good thought out step by the government that will help to increase the number of doctors in our country, which is the need of the hour. However, we will need more clarity on how the big hospitals will increase its students for the DNB courses as this will require more professors which is a limitation today. Overall, the allotments in a total of Rs 69,000 crores inclusive of Rs 6,400 crores inclusive of PM Jan Aroyga Yojana will help entrepreneurs and healthcare providers set up care centres which will help to multiply the serves to the population.

Allocating Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector is a comprehensive approach to healthcare and wellness

Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson, Mpower

We welcome the government’s decision to allocate Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector, which takes a comprehensive approach to healthcare and wellness. I hope that this holistic vision will encompass mental health as well, especially in areas of creating the required infrastructure and encouraging more mental healthcare professionals.

The budget also takes positive steps to expand health insurance under Ayushman Bharat scheme. This will help to reduce the burden of medical expenses on lower-income families. We look forward to making this scheme more inclusive and effective by covering mental health issues as well.

Amidst the rising mental health concerns witnessed in India, it is imperative that these issues are not left unaddressed. A comprehensive vision and progressive policy can result in a healthy India that will positively impact the socio-economic fabric of the country.

Launching campaigns to eliminate animal diseases is encouraging

Dr Prasanna Deshpande, Deputy Managing Director, Indian Immunologicals

The allocation of Rs 69,000 crores for healthcare and the opening of hospitals in tier II and tier III cities are certainly positive steps in ensuring better healthcare.

It is encouraging to see the government’s thrust on launching campaigns to eliminate animal diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis by 2025. This ambitious goal will help in improving animal health in the country and increase livestock productivity. The proposal to expand the coverage of artificial insemination to 70 per cent from 30 per cent will also assist in increasing livestock productivity and benefit farmers. The seamless national cold supply chain for perishables, setting up of Kisan Rail through PPP model for the transportation of the perishable goods (like milk) will help the dairy farmers to supply their products more quickly and help to increase their income.

The increased amount of allocation of funds to Rs 69,000 crores is a bold step to help empower those who require it the most

Dr Rohinton Dastur- Director Medical, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai

The expansion of Ayushman Bharat scheme to help set up hospitals in tier II and tier III towns is a welcome move that will help in reducing the burden of hospitals in tier I cities. A number of people will gain access to medical treatment in these towns thereby reducing the commuting time and expenses for treatment in Tier-I cities.

The increased amount of allocation of funds to Rs 69,000 crores is seen as a bold step taken by the government to help empower those who require it the most.

The announcement to attached medical colleges with district hospitals will help to bridge the shortfall of medical professionals in district levels. This will help boost the healthcare industry.

Zoya Brar, Founder and CEO, CORE Diagnostics

No significant announcement pertaining to the diagnostics industry, but good to see the government’s growing focus on PPP mode

It is encouraging to see over 10 per cent increase in the allocation of funds to the healthcare sector for the budget 2020-21. While there has been no significant announcement pertaining to the diagnostics industry, it is good to see the government’s growing focus on PPP mode ensuring accessibility and availability of quality healthcare services in remote locations. We are intrigued about how the government will use the fund of Rs 6,400 crores allocated exclusively to Ayushman Bharat to the benefit of the people residing in tier II and tier III cities. The expansion of the government’s existing programme – Mission Indradhanush – to cover 12 new diseases and five new vaccines would be extremely beneficial in order to drive immunisation across the country. The investment of Rs 8,000 crores for National Mission of Quantum Technology and Application is another noteworthy announcement for the healthcare industry.

Rashie Jain, CEO and Co-founder, Onco.com

We are positive about the measures taken in the budget to make healthcare for all a priority

The allocation of 69,000 crores in the budget towards better healthcare for tier II and tier III towns, is a welcome move. Extending Jan Arogya Yojana to bring more underprivileged within the insurance ambit will go a long way towards ensuring better healthcare and treatment options. We are positive about the measures taken in the budget to make healthcare for all a priority.

A big push towards ‘Make in India’ efforts for medical technology

Nalinikanth Gollagunta, Managing Director, Wipro GE Healthcare

The increased allocation to healthcare and specific focus on addressing the healthcare infrastructure gap specifically in tier II and tier III cities through PPP mode hospitals being planned to be set up under viability gap funding will significantly help us achieve our goal of Ayushman Bharat. Elimination of Dividend Distribution Tax, along with incentives directed towards medical devices companies under electronics manufacturing, will be a big push towards ‘Make in India’ efforts for medical technology.

Creating a tax charter and enshrining it in the Act is a welcome move

Deepak Sahni, CEO and Founder, Healthians

The budget’s focus on healthcare through expanding Ayushman Bharat, setting up more hospitals in tier II and tier III cities, establishing more Jan Aushadhi outlets are welcoming moves. The boost to startups through a variety of moves like easier access to debt, dedicated early-stage seed fund and other tax rebates are sure to allow more and more startups to flourish. Deferring taxes on ESOPs, which are currently dually taxed, is a great way to help companies retain talent and reduce attrition. Besides, creating a tax charter and enshrining it in the Act is a welcome move; however, the real benefit will need to be assessed based on implementation. Removing DDT and letting corporate tax remain unchanged is sure to boost confidence for companies.

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India

Allocation of Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector is way below expectations

The proposal to set up a task force to recommend the marriageable age for women is a positive step. This will ensure their participation and contribution to the economy, as the delayed age of marriage will enable them to complete their education and acquire job and life skills.

However, the allocation of Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector is way below expectations, especially when there is a huge unmet need for healthcare services in the country. The budgets allocated for health and family welfare, Rs 65,012 crores this year, is a mere 3.8 per cent increase over the previous budget. This is insufficient considering the current rate of inflation.

With the discourse on population stabilisation gaining momentum, there is a need for greater investment in family planning. Yet, the allocation for family welfare schemes has been declining consecutively for the last two years, from Rs 770 crores in 2018-19 to Rs 700 crores in 2019-20 to Rs 600 crores in the current budget. This may adversely affect the access to family planning services, especially the availability of spacing methods which are much needed to stabilise the population momentum.

The initiative to attach a medical college to an existing district hospital in a public-private partnership model as envisaged in this budget should be reconsidered as this may compromise the standards of medical education and quality of care in absence of an effective oversight mechanism and a clearly defined management structure. Also, the government is best positioned to provide last-mile connectivity for public health services.

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