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Experts respond after Finance Minister addresses nation with new COVID-19 package

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Public expenditure on health will be increased. All districts will have an infectious diseases block. There will be integrated public health labs in all districts at the block level. Health and wellness centres in urban and rural areas will also be increased: Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister, GoI

A number of fiscal and regulatory stimulus measures have been announced by the Government. The Rs 10,000 crore incentive scheme announced by the government for boosting domestic manufacturing of bulk-drugs and medical devices will go a long way in reducing India’s dependence on imports. The ruling government has also realised the role of technology in transforming the sector. Measures such as rolling out of guidelines for telemedicine and doorstep delivery will have a long-term impact. Implementation of the National Digital Health Blueprint is a strategic step towards ensuring digitisation of health records and better management of public healthcare outcomes” stated Sidharrth Shankar, Partner, J Sagar Associates

 All these reforms and initiatives announced by the government are welcome steps for not only public but also for healthcare sector. However the government also needs to be careful and conscious that the reform reaches to the intended recipient and does not drift away during the process of distribution. Secondly, the government should also take immediate steps to ensure that there is no Red-Tapism and the make in India policy is implemented so that the healthcare manufacturing sector seize more investment from entrepreneurs who are not already investing in the sector,” mentioned Dheeraj Nair, Partner, J Sagar Associates

“The announcements regarding Rs 15000 crore allocated for COVID-19 containment and treatment including for essential items and testing kits is a much needed support. Of this about Rs 4100 crore has been released to the States. Leveraging of IT services for teleconsultation will help patients with non-COVID health issues, who were left stranded due to cessation of all non-emergency  health  services. Our doctors and health workers have been working under very trying circumstances and without adequate protection. The increase in supply of PPE ( 57 lakh already supplied and more than 300 domestic manufacturers producing ) N-95 masks ( 87 lakh have been provided) is the right start but we need many many more supplies given the situation,” said Charu Sehgal, Partner and Leader, Lifesciences and Healthcare, Deloitte India.

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