Express Healthcare

Open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out: Budget 2022

0 1,362

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented Union Budget 2022-2023 today. Last year, Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will spend Rs 64,180 crore over the next six years to improve healthcare services.

Key announcements for healthcare sector

National Digital Health Ecosystem: An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out. It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities.

Dr Ramakanta Panda, Head, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai says, “National Digital Health Ecosystem is a visionary move. Thanks to COVID, health has been at the forefront of expenses in India, for the last two years. The problems of healthcare access and administration faced in the last 2 years, have clearly inspired the allocations to healthcare in Budget 2022. The National Digital Health Ecosystem is a visionary move- to have  digital registries of health providers and health facilities in a single system will facilitate access.  Imagine if we had this system at the beginning of the COVID outbreak. What this could mean is a  single window connecting patients to beds, ailments to specialists etc; Technology is a massive enabler  and this system will help healthcare delivery in ways that will define the future of healthcare in India. The other area I would like to understand is how much support will be there for R&D in healthcare- there was a mention of the government’s support for R&D expenditure in sunrise areas such as drones, AI, genomics, space and clean energy. We will need to see the fine print on this.”

Narendra Varde, MD, Roche Diagnostics India said, “The last two years of the pandemic have highlighted the need for increased focus on healthcare. While the announcement of the National Digital Health Ecosystem is a step in the right direction, the budget could have had a well-defined blueprint to address the pressing healthcare issues in terms of infrastructure enhancement and capability building. However, we are hopeful that the expansion in capex to Rs 7.50 Lakh crore will be used to provide much-needed support to improve healthcare infrastructure across the nation. The launch of the National-Tele Mental Health programme to improve access to quality mental health counseling and care services is a much-needed initiative, especially after the emotional turmoil of the last 2 years.”

Aniruddha Sen, Co-Founder, Kenko Health said, “The rolling out of the Open Platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem is a noble step. It will go a long way in digitising our data about healthcare providers and extending universal access to health facilities on a digital platform. Also, the announcement of the National Tele Mental Health Program is a progressive step towards recognising the mental health burdens that face our country in the wake of the pandemic. Besides these direct measures, the extension of household tap-water access is another big win when it comes to universal access to health and the hygiene necessities.”

Alka Goel, Founding Partner, Alkemi added, “Over all the budget focused on growth and large capex outlay is a step in the right direction. While didn’t see a further increase in healthcare allocation from what was declared last year – the focus on digitisation is clear. The government has seen the benefits of digitisation in other sectors and the objective is the same in healthcare. The government has already been working on the national digital health mission and if implemented fast and successfully will help formalize and track the healthcare sector – allowing for more tailored policy interventions. The interoperability of this is a huge plus.”

Dr Shravan Subramanyam, Managing Director, Wipro GE Healthcare and President & CEO, GE Healthcare-India and South Asia said, “The Union Budget 2022-23 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took a comprehensive, growth-oriented approach. With a big push for capex which has been increased from INR 5.54 lakh crore to INR 7.50 lakh crore, we look forward to this providing fillip for improving health facilities and hospital infrastructure & access in the country. The open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will not only encourage people to buy health insurance but will also widen the access to quality healthcare. The launch of the National Tele Mental Health Program represents a progressive step towards recognising and acting on mental health issues, especially considering the emotional toll that COVID-19 has taken on people. The government’s focus on holistic health encompassing physical as well as mental well-being is the right step towards a strong health system. We also recognise and applaud the government’s efforts towards a digitized healthcare system that is well-aligned with the National Digital Health Mission. We endeavor to scale technologies to aid safe, effective, and efficient care as the healthcare sector embraces the digital revolution. Partnering in India’s journey towards affordable, quality healthcare access for all remains on our agenda.”

Layak Singh, Founder & CEO- Artivatic.AI said, “FM Nirmala Sitharaman’s Union Budget 2022-23 is a rock-solid budget that takes the strong position the nation is poised in despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic due to a successful vaccination campaign, and takes it that much ahead at the macro level. An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem which will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities will widen access to quality healthcare driving focus on the need for health insurance. The set up of unique health identity will also help the insurance providers in better risk assessment, premiums and claims. The budget proves that government is committed towards building a strong health system.”

Ajay Sharma, Co-founder & COO, DESH Clinics said, “Truly a bold, forward-looking budget that lays the roadmap to steer the economy over the next decade and turn it into a truly digital ecosystem. It is heartening that the Finance Minister has recognised the importance of telecommunication as a medium of growth of tele health in India. The Budget’s emphasis on rapid deployment of optical fibers in underserved geographies, earmarking 5 per cent of Universal Service Obligation fund for affordable broadband and mobile services in rural and remote areas, and roll out of National Digital Health Ecosystem are hugely welcome. This will enable an explosion of tele-health services across the country, connecting patients in rural areas with medical specialists in metros, solving the problem of access.”

Dr Joseph Thomas, CEO, Medlounges added, “It is very welcoming to know about the National Digital Health Ecosystem, which will provide access to citizens’ health care data on a national network. This will speed up any medical processes in the health care system and can avoid unnecessary repeated investigations. It will also be an easy transition to a paperless health care system. But we need to look out for the villages and outskirts where the internet is scarce and needs to improve their health care system in such a way that the villages are also benefitted. And a certain amount should be allocated for such necessities too for the upbringing of the poorest villages in India.”

Neeraj Gupta, Founder and CEO, Genes2Me added, “We are glad that the Budget this year focuses on strengthening the digital healthcare infrastructure with the rollout of open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem. Facilities like digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health will fasten the procedures and help in fighting the pandemic at a greater speed.”

Shanay Shah, President, Shalby Hospitals said, “With the pandemic still seizing hold on the world, the healthcare sector has taken the centre stage during this year’s budget. The Budget announcement reflects the intention of the government to introduce and strengthen digitization in India. The Union Budget has done a phenomenal job introducing a National Tele Mental Health program. This astounding step taken will not only help in creating the long due mental health awareness in our country but will also promote a healthier mental life in India. Provisioning in the budget for a better healthcare system, especially in the rural areas would have been highly beneficial. The introduction of an open platform for the National Digital Health ecosystem that consists of digital registries, unique health identities and universal access to health facilities will ensure easy access and transparency across the health sector. This digitisation will be highly revolutionary in the coming years as the world continues to constantly advance.”

Dr Roy K George, National President, The Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI) added, “Finance Ministers announcement of an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem which will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities is a welcome move. Indian Nursing Council has been working towards implementing a Live Register (Nursing Registration Tracking System) which is a is a web-based application to enable creation of live register of the nurses across the country. We are happy that a national tele mental health program for counselling is also being announced today. The pandemic has been especially difficult for healthcare workers as well as they have been affected by psychological and mental issues. We believe that a compromise on the mental health of our nurses and midwives will adversely affects healthcare delivery, patient care and safety. We are also hopeful that the announcement of Rs 64,180 crore (Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission) will help strengthen capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary Health Care Systems, including existing national institutions, and create new institutions to cater to detection and cure of new and emerging diseases. India has battling shortage of nurses and midwives for years now and we are hopeful that some initiatives will be taken to improve basic infrastructure for the overall development of the cadre.”
Vishal Bali, Executive Chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings said, “Budget 2023 focuses on key pillars of Capex led growth, enablement of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and controlling fiscal deficit. If executed well, an increase in the capital outlay of INR 7.5 Lacs crores can kick start the economic engine. The budget is silent on the increase in public expenditure on healthcare and the path to 2.5 per cent of GDP spent on healthcare which is the much-needed reform path for this sector and enablement of healthcare access to India. However, The focus on digital healthcare with the National Digital Health Ecosystem is a welcome move that will include digital registries of health professionals and facilities, a unique health identity, and help strengthen the foundation of universal access to health care facilities. The announcement of a national telemedicine-led mental health program with a network of 23 telemental health centers, with Nimhans serving as the nodal centers is also a step in the right direction. However, reform in paramedical education for faster enablement of clinical/paraclinical talent is still not addressed. While the FM led Budget 21 made healthcare a central subject, Budget 22 does lack continuity of that vision.”

Anand K, CEO SRL Diagnostics said, “Overall, the budget has been underwhelming for the healthcare sector. The healthcare industry has rallied and put all of its available resources to fight the pandemic and safeguard people’s health. For decades, the expenditure on healthcare has been low. As per the recent economic survey results, we have seen an increase in healthcare expenditure for 2020-2021, largely driven by vaccinations. We remain positive that the government and health ministry will continue to increase expenditures in the coming years, especially pertaining to investments in primary healthcare infrastructure. Atmanirbhar Bharat also translates to the health of every citizen and therefore a renewed approach to preventive health and disease prevention is important. We welcome the FM’s announcement on the official rollout of the much-awaited Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, which is expected to provide universal access to healthcare facilities. The government’s initiative on tele-mental health is encouraging. The addition of 23 tele-mental health centers is the need of the hour, especially considering the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of people. The pandemic has been a reminder of how much work needs to be done in healthcare; especially in terms of building the infrastructure as well as having a skilled workforce including doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, and laboratory technologists. The last budget saw a broader vision for health by merging nutrition, air pollution, sanitation, and access to clean water. It also spoke about adding health and wellness centers, block-level laboratories, more medical colleges, and more institutes like the National Institute of Virology. We not only need more expenditure on healthcare but also effective implementation, accountability, and reporting milestones at regular intervals. We did expect that Budget 2022 will amalgamate these initiatives under the health ministry; taking health from a curative approach and disease management to promoting good health and wellness.”

Kamal Narayan Omer, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council added, “This year, many eyes were laid on the Union Budget, as Indians continue to fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The healthcare industry eagerly looked forward to the budget speech by Hon’ble Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman. And it turned out to be an interesting one, at least, from the perspective of the health industry. It must be kept in mind; the health care sector was the major winner last time. The government of India gave top priority to the health and well-being of every Indian citizen and increased the allocation to the sector by a whopping 137 per cent to Rs 2.23 lakh crore. The finance minister has announced the launch of the National Tele Mental Health Programme and this is set to provide access to quality mental health counselling and care services. This is quite a significant decision, given the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of people from all walks of life in the last two years, in an unprecedented manner. It has already been observed that mental health crises are at an all-time high in our country, with high distress and anxiety due to this pandemic resulting in poor psychological well-being, an increase in suicidal tendency, to name a few. Mental health experts have long opined for one such programme that will allow us to tackle these problems more comprehensively. Therefore, the following announcement by the Government of India will benefit millions of Indian citizens.”

“Secondly, and most importantly, the finance minister also announced the rollout of an open platform for the National Digital Health ecosystem. Interestingly, the ecosystem will also consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, providing a unique health identity and universal access to health facilities. India, right now, is on the cusp of witnessing a digital health highway. An open platform for a digital health system perfectly fits with the overall strategic vision and direction that the Government of India currently has with flagship missions such as Ayushman Bharat, Swachh Bharat, Digital India and Make in India, all contributing towards a healthy and prosperous society. Secondly, blending digital approaches into traditional healthcare models will also tackle the long-standing problem of health inequity, affordability, and accessibility”, he added

Dr Lalitha Reddy – Vice President, Telemedicine Society of India added, “Riding along with the 3rd wave of COVID-19, we’ve all realized the dire need for significant investment in the country’s healthcare and pharma infrastructure. While developments like the vaccination program have immensely helped in battling the pandemic, there needs to be a greater, more immediate focus on the same. 2022’s budget has most welcomingly prioritised the digitalisation of healthcare services (Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission), along with a greater focus on the mental health crisis (National Tele Mental Health Programme). ABDM aims at developing an open platform that will list “digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities”. Further, NTMHP will provide better access and affordability to quality mental health counselling, through a network of 23 tele-mental health centers backed by NIMHANS and IIT Bengaluru.”

Jesal Doshi, Deputy CEO, B Medical Systems said, With India in the midst of a third wave of the pandemic, healthcare, including digital healthcare, and mental health has been a focus in Budget 2022-23. The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem, which includes digital registries of health providers and facilitates a unique health identity, a consent framework, and universal access to health services. The Finance Minister also stated that 95 per cent of the 112 aspirational districts had made substantial progress in key sectors such as health, nutrition, infrastructure etc. and that efforts would now be focused on areas that were underperforming. We are hopeful that the Government impetus will improve India’s ability to access world-class medical cold chain products while also improving India’s export competitiveness in this industry”

Dr Niteen Desai, Dean, NMIMS Sunandan Divatia School of Science said, “The strong platform of pharma and healthcare in India helped to manage this pandemic efficiently. The newer mutant strains of coronavirus are emerging causing a burden on our healthcare system. For early diagnosis and identification of such outbreaks, it warranted a strong genomic platform. The genomic approach will help not only in such a pandemic but also for the correct and efficient diagnosis of cancer, diabetic-related pathies, infertility, inherited diseases like Thalassemia, MND etc. With the genomic approach, the healthcare approach will change towards personalised medication which will help in reducing drug allergies, drug-induced secondary complications, excess use of drugs, supplements etc.”

National Tele Mental Health program: The pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. To better the access to quality mental health counseling and care services, a National Tele Mental Health program will be launched. This will include a network of 23 tele mental health centres of excellence with Nimhans being the nodal centre and IIIT Bangalore providing technology support.

Suryaprabha Sadasivan, Vice President – Healthcare, Chase India said, “The long-term effects of the pandemic include an impact on mental health in terms of anxiety and depression related to the virus itself and the socio-economic downturn. Therefore, including access to quality mental health counseling and care services through a ‘National Tele Mental Health Programme’ is promising. However, given how the pandemic has reinforced the need for a strong public health system, the budget allocation does not consider the three key pillars of strengthening health system resilience, health security, and universal health coverage. The total increment of budget allocation for healthcare vis-à-vis last year is almost negligible (0.2 per cent), which is highly disappointing.”

Subhamoy Dastidar, Director, AtEase on the Union Budget 2022-2023 said, “As a strong ally of mental health, it’s gratifying to see that mental health has got a rare mention in Union Budget 2022-23. This shows the government’s acceptance and concern towards holistic health and not just physical health which has been brought to the fore by the pandemic. The proposed National Tele-Mental Health program will be indeed a strong step towards supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of individuals, families, and society at large. Post pandemic, especially since 2020 mental health issues are no more considered an urban phenomenon but have spread across small towns in India and need to make mental health services more accessible is bigger than ever.”

Nakshi Satra, Founder, Inha Wellness added, “Mental Health being of utmost importance at this point post COVID Pandemic, the Tele-Mental Health Program with 23 centers as per the Union Budget will prove to be a great path-breaking initiative for our country. There is a lot of emotional wellness required, a lot of suffering to heal to avert the same in the near future!

  • Tele-call programs can become the easiest channel of access for people and mark the beginning of revolutionary change inside out.
  • Tele-call mental health is as effective as in-person guidance for most mental health conditions.
  • One can be sitting in any part of the country to access these services without spending time on traveling and waiting. This would offer immediate attention and resolutions.
  • This initiative will allow our country to normalise seeking mental health guidance.
  • This will also allow the newer age and the existing generations to adapt to holistic wellbeing.

“As the need for mental health will tax very soon on the wellness industry, the tech support for the tele-mental health program will become the fastest and scalable route for reach and impact. ”

Shashank Saini, Founder and CEO, Medpho said, “The announcement of the tele mental health sector is a wonderful move. It helps people access much-needed help, without being subject to the stigma that still surrounds mental health. Additionally, it also encourages the use of telehealth services and educates people further on potential access to quality healthcare, regardless of location.”

Zahara Kanchwalla, Co-founder & CEO, Rite KnowledgeLabs says, ” The national tele-mental health program announced by the FM in this year’s budget is a commendable move. Alongside economical needs, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of physical and mental well-being. It will help people prioritize mental health and reduce the stigma associated with it. Another key knowledge-based initiative launched by FM today is the creation of a digital ecosystem for skilling and livelihood creation. It will help channel India’s demographic dividend for economic growth and prosperity. With the aim to skill, reskill and upskill citizens through online training, the open source tech platform will help people find relevant jobs and opportunities.”

KR Raghunath, Senior Chairman, Jindal Naturecure Institute added, “We welcome the much-deserved attention on India’s healthcare sector in the Union Budget 2022-23. We are encouraged by the government’s renewed focus on preventive and curative health as well as the overall wellness and well-being of our citizens. An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem which will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities will widen access to health and wellness while driving focus on preventive health. Also, to better the access to quality mental health counselling and care services, a National Tele Mental Health program has been announced that’ll further help in tackling the rising number of mental health disorders in the country. These patient centred initiatives will play a pivotal role in the success of the National Health Mission”

Dr Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee, Poddar Foundation added, “The current direct allocations for mental health are grossly insufficient, taking into consideration that 14 per cent of India’s population lives with some form of mental illness, and there exists a treatment gap of 72–92 per cent. The launch of a national tele-mental health program for mental health counselling in collaboration with IIT Bangalore is a much-awaited move from the government. Mental healthcare & well-being are complex & intersectoral in nature, for an effective mental health system, intersectoral linkages must be strenghtened and this has reflected in the Union Budget 2022-23. Also, the launch of an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem which will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities is a testimony of the commitment of the government to building stronger health systems.”

Dr Mayank Somani, CEO & MD, Apollomedics Super SuperSpecialty Hospital welcomed the launch of Digital Health Ecosystem and National Tele-mental Health Program in this year’s budget and said, “During the pandemic, we had to face a very unfortunate situation. The health sector had to struggle to save lives. We also witnessed the deteriorating mental health of many patients due to isolation. The National Tele-Mental Health Program is a truly admirable announcement towards making mental health care accessible to all. We expect that the government will come out with some stronger policies in this direction so that mental health issues can be reduced.”

He said, “Also, the government is going to launch an open platform for the digital health ecosystem. This will create a combined database of health providers and health services, giving everyone a unique health ID and universal access to health facilities. This is also an important and welcome step. Considering India’s strong growth in the IT sector, this work should have been done much earlier.”

According to Avishek Agarwal, Co-Founder, Jobizo, “The tech-focused approach towards the health sector by the Hon’ble FM Nirmala Sitharaman, is commendable and Heartily Welcomed. With the advancement of tech in every sphere, the announcement of the Open Platform for the National Digital Health ecosystem, which would constitute digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework and universal access to health facilities has been applauded by the health sector. This step would help in information symmetry across the digital medicine/health/wellness platform. Additionally, the registry would help in establishing trust among the stakeholders. The unique health identity would help in providing effective treatment despite a change in the geographical location of the patient. The consent framework would promote mental satisfaction for the consumer by aligning terms and conditions around the country. The announcement would promote digital services provided by healthcare startups, which contribute immensely to promoting the vision of the government- Healthcare for all.”

Dr Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, MD & CEO, Fortis Healthcare said, “It is very encouraging to see the government’s attention on mental health of the citizens. The proposed National Tele-mental Programme will prove to be beneficial for a large section of the society, enabling access to quality mental health counselling. The announcement regarding upgradation of 2 lakh angadwadis and the rolling out of the digital health mission will also help in providing greater access to healthcare services and strengthen capacities. Digital health ecosystem is an area where we would have appreciated some more allocation, especially the National Digital Health ID initiative. Of course, as the programme is a long-term one, I am sure that funds will be made available in the future. That apart, the special status given to data centres is going to have an impact on the digitalisation of the healthcare ecosystem, both from the insurers’ as well as the providers’ perspective. I think these are very positive outcomes from the health perspective. As the healthcare sector has been at the forefront of battling the COVID pandemic, it would have been great if certain allocations were enhanced.”

Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson, Mpower said, “The government has recognised the mental health crisis, exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, in the Union Budget. The setting up of a national tele mental health programme is a welcome move, and will go a long way in helping people of all ages to access quality mental health. Today, having a platform where people can voice their concerns freely, and safely is the first step towards mental wellness, and I am confident that with this, India will be able to bring about a much-needed change in society.”

Parimal Heda, Chief Investment Officer, Digit Insurance added, This year’s Union Budget was more focused on offering the much-needed relaxation for MSMEs and start-ups. Extending the tax incentive for start-ups by one more year due to the pandemic will surely give a boost to the start-up ecosystem. Taking note of the pandemic-induced mental health issues, the government’s decision to launch a National Tele Mental Health Programme will immensely help people who are dealing with anxiety and stress-related issues. This will also nudge insurers to create comprehensive products which include mental health benefits, further promoting health and wellness more holistically.”

Sudarshan, CEO, Save the Children said, “The announcements in the budget speech for setting up National Tele-Mental Health Programme, National Digital Health Ecosystem, supporting the millet mission, upgradation of 2 lakhs Anganwadi centres under Saksham Anganwadi and allocation of INR 60,000 crore for household tap water are significant interventions. It is however important to ensure that the benefits reach the most marginalised children, and adequately address their health and nutrition needs. The Budget speech made no mention on allocation of budget for improving the core health sector. In keeping with the adverse impact of COVID-19 on health of children, it is critical that adequate budget allocation on health sector is made, in keeping with our demand to have a budgetary allocation of 2.5 per cent of the GDP.”

Dr Mona Duggal – Associate Professor (Community), Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh said, “National Telemental health program is an excellent initiative and need of the hour given the limited resources and trained manpower. This will give the required boost to the framework of telemedicine services and virtual clinics. National Digital Health Mission Registries on health personnel will help provide  an assessment of  skilled workforce in different regions. These are baby-steps but as a robust database comes into force, it will have a long term impact on strengthening-of health systems and equity.”

Gracy Andrew, Vice President, CorStone(India) added, “It is a great initiative from the government to acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of people and to improve mental health services through tele-mental health. However, we need to make sure that access reaches to the remote areas and to the most vulnerable; that the standard of given services is maintained by adequate training and supervision, as well as establishing regulatory bodies to maintain the same. Finally, it is important for us to recognise that promotive mental health programs that focus on building resilience skills should be implemented hand-in-hand with counseling services in schools, institutions, and communities if we really want to see the impact.”

Rachana Parikh, Senior Program Officer, Mental Health, PATH South Asia said, “To better the access to quality mental health counseling and care services, a National Tele Mental Health program will be launched. This is a welcome move, considering the glaring need for access to advanced mental health care in the country. It is not often, we see mental health being explicitly mentioned in our budgets. However, still much can be improved in this area. There is an urgent need for increasing allocation towards the mental health sector, which received only one percent of the overall spending on health. The allocation towards the National Mental Health Program has to be further enhanced since this is critical in ensuring access to mental health in rural and hard to reach areas.”

Dr Kedar Tilwe, Consultant-Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital Mulund & Fortis Hiranandani Hospital said, “The COVID19 pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. To address this issue the launch of the National Tele Mental Health Program, as a part of the Union Budget announcement, is a step in the right direction. The proposed National Tele-Mental Health program is a great initiative to support the mental well-being of individuals, families, and society as a whole by enhancing the acessability to the service. This should be a mammoth progressive step towards normalizing the conversation around this topic and removing the stigma associated with it, in the long run.”

Dinesh Chauhan, CEO, CORE Diagnostics says, “We congratulate the government for presenting a dynamic budget with a major focus on strengthening the healthcare sector. Budget 22 is visionary and focused on implementing major steps to revitalise the healthcare industry including driving healthcare penetration underpinned by technology thrust and access. The national digital health ecosystem is a strong move to enable equitable access to healthcare services as well as towards creating a robust healthcare ecosystem. The introduction of National Tele Mental health to access quality mental health services is a much-appreciated move, considering the rise of pandemic accentuated mental health problems in India. While there has been no significant announcement related to the diagnostics sector, it is encouraging to see the government focusing on the PPP model and digital health which will further ensure accessibility and availability of quality healthcare services in remote locations. We will continue to bring significant change in the diagnostics space with our continued investments in developing sophisticated  diagnostics for early detection and outcome-based line of treatment for patients.”

Jesal Doshi, Deputy CEO, B Medical Systems added, With India in the midst of a third wave of the pandemic, healthcare, including digital healthcare, and mental health has been a focus in Budget 2022-23. The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem, which includes digital registries of health providers and facilitates a unique health identity, a consent framework, and universal access to health services. The Finance Minister also stated that 95 per cent of the 112 aspirational districts had made
substantial progress in key sectors such as health, nutrition, infrastructure etc. and that efforts would now be focused on areas that were underperforming. We are hopeful that the government impetus will improve India’s ability to access world-class medical cold chain products while also improving India’s export competitiveness in this industry”

Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, said, “When we were struggling with the massive pandemic second wave last year, we thought that the only silver lining out of this would be that the current state of health care facilities in the country would attract the attention of the government, especially the Prime Minister and the finance minister. And we will see a big push towards healthcare spending, at least to the promise 3 per cent of GDP that the government has been promising since a long time. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard much on health care and education in this budget. The welcome part of the budget is that the national digital health ecosystem has been opened up and the National Mental Health tele helpline is being launched. Mental health has been disregarded for a very long time in the country. But overall, haven’t had any exciting news so far from the budget, which we were looking forward to.”

Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Founder, Manasthali, said “This has been a best budget when it comes to highlighting the need of mental health when the nation is gripped by the COViD pandemic from the last couple of years. The isolation and social-distancing have brought mental health concerns to the forefront. All strata of society have suffered tremendously due to stress of pandemic, financial uncertainty,  and lack of adequate medical services. It’s commendable that the mental well-being of the community has been prioritised. In this regard, the announcement of a mental health care and counselling program is a silver lining. IIT-Bangalore has been appointed for providing the tech support in implementing the program.”

Dr Tushar Grover, Medical Director, Vision Eye Centre, New Delhi, Said, ” With the budget 2022 continuing to be growth-oriented as it picks up from budget 2021, the sharp focus on infrastructure building by way of Gatishakti being one of the four priorities underlines the long term perspective of the government.  Even as the pandemic apparently seems on its way out notwithstanding the persisting risks, the endeavour to comprehensively digitalise the health infrastructure in the form of National Digital Health Ecosystem along with setting up of mental health centers of excellence must be welcomed by all means. The provision for digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities would make it easier for everyone including patients and caregivers in the coming years.”

Dr Kedar Tilwe, Consultant-Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital Mulund & Fortis Hiranandani Hospital said, “The COVID19 pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. To address this issue the launch of the National Tele Mental Health Program, as a part of the Union Budget announcement, is a step in the right direction. The proposed National Tele-Mental Health program is a great initiative to support the mental well-being of individuals, families, and society as a whole by enhancing the acessability to the service. This should be a mammoth progressive step towards normalizing the conversation around this topic and removing the stigma associated with it, in the long run.”

Two lakh anganwadis will be upgraded: Three schemes namely- Mission Shakti, Mission Vatsalya, Sakasham Anganwadi and Poshan Maah 2.0 were launched recently to provide integrated benefits to women and children. Saksham Anganwadis are a new generation anganwadis that have better infrastructure and audio-visual aid powered by clean energy and providing improved environment for early childhood development. Two lakh anganwadis will be upgraded under the scheme.”

“I recognise we are in midst of an Omicron wave with high incidence but milder symptoms. Coverage of our vaccination campaign has helped greatly. With the accelerated improvement of health infrastructure in the past two years, we are in a strong position to withstand challenges. I am confident that with ‘Sabka Prayas’, we’ll continue our journey with strong growth.” “Empathy for those who bore the impact of the pandemic. We are confident of withstanding challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic and strive to provide a necessary ecosystem for the middle class. This Budget hopes to lay the foundation for Amrit Kal from India at 75 to India at 100, ” Sitharaman said today

Dr Harsh Mahajan, President, NATHEALTH added, “The speedy roll-out of the digital health mission, move towards provision of unique health identity, upgradation of two lakh angadwadis, alignment of national skill framework with industry needs and value-based procurement augurs well for modernisation of healthcare in the post-pandemic era. The launch of the tele-mental program has brought mental health issues to the forefront which will better the access to quality mental health counselling. Focus on promoting R& D in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Genome sequencing and Pharma is a much-needed demand being fulfilled. We congratulate the Government on record GST mobilisation, however, the embedded credit issue in healthcare sector still remains unaddressed, and we hope to soon find a viable solution acceptable to the government. Greater fund and resource allocation for strengthening healthcare infrastructure not only in urban areas but also in tier 2-3 towns has always been a focus of the government. and this would be taken forward keeping quality of care and financial viability in mind.”

“There is also a need to create fiscal incentives for investments/PPP in both hospital and out-of-hospital delivery models like telemedicine, home care, senior care and long-term care. We request the government to consider lowering cost of financing capital, free flow of credit into the sector especially for the build-up of new infra and capacity and continue investment in incentivising capacity build-up of supply side levers through PPP like medical education, diagnostic and device manufacturing.”

Sharing his reaction on this, Raghavendra Goud Vaggu, General Manager of Cytiva South Asia said “As per the FM Nirmala Sitharaman’s Union Budget, India’s GDP is estimated to grow at about 9.27 per cent. That means as a nation, we are primed to withstand many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic due to our higher penetration of vaccinations. All we need to do is maintain this strong position our economy finds itself in. Since we are still in the midst of the Omicron wave, the FM observes that the speed of our prompt and all-encompassing vaccination campaign has helped greatly. She’s also confident that with ‘Sabka Prayaas’, we’ll continue on a strong growth path. During Amrit Kaal, our government aims to achieve the vision for [email protected] that was unveiled by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day Address.”

Dr Payal Kanodia, Trustee, M3M Foundation, “The announcements made in the Union Budget by the Honourable Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have covered all the aspects crucial to make resources available and accessible to the last person standing in the line, benefitting the people of the community. The Saksham Angwanwadi and Poshan 2.0 program will not only provide benefits to 2 lakh Anganwadis but will also ensure development of each section of the society for a healthy and prosperous India.”

Rohini Saran, Lead, Nutrition, PATH South Asia added, “It is great to see the GOI focusing on women-led programs related to health and nutrition programs and bringing them together rather than working in silos. Focus on POSHAN will have an impact health and nutrition status due to the pandemic impact. Making schemes more gender responsive by advising ministries to submit gender-responsive budgets is a good start and can be a gamechanger to address data gaps. However, outlay for PM’s vision like provision of fortified rice by 2024 is missing. A reduction in GST on Fortified rice kernels (FRK), branded fortified rice/wheat flour and premix should have been included. For states to effectively implement nutrition programs, budget allocations for feeding programs could have been increased for provision of quality and nutrient dense meals.”

Mini Varghese, Country Director, Nutrition International, India said, “Nutrition International welcomes the launch of Mission Shakti, Mission Vatsalya, Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 to provide integrated health and nutrition benefits to women and children. This is crucial especially now when the pandemic has highlighted the gaps in health systems and jolted the food and nutrition security of the country. Even though the increase in the budget outlay for the National Health Mission has been only 8.16 per cent, from 34947 Cr (2021-22 RE) to 37800 Cr (2022-23 BE), for this and past allocations to be effective, a strengthened implementation is needed by creating an enabling environment. Emphasis needs to be on adequate staffing, building capacities of our frontline functionaries, strengthening policies, developing adequate infrastructure, joint working of departments at every level, and improving access to healthcare and nutrition services. Further, as we look at the budget 2022-23, there is still scope for more considering our budget for health and nutrition as it is still much less than 5 per cent of GDP, as suggested by WHO for the middle-income countries.”

The impetus of the government needs to move from the ‘lowest cost’ to the ‘best patient outcomes’

Pavan Mocherla, MD, BD India said, “As we move through another wave of COVID-19 pandemic, it is now an established fact that the healthcare sector including medtech needs sustained push from the government. The impetus of the government needs to move from the ‘lowest cost’ to the ‘best patient outcomes’ which will result in economies of scale and bring transparency in the sector. While the government has taken important initiatives including PLI scheme, setting up of medical device parks, it is expected that the government will build further momentum on these initiatives with 35.4 per cent increased capex spending to Rs 7.5 lakh crore as announced in the budget 2022-23. In line with the government’s vision of building an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, it is important that the government also provide higher tax incentives for R&D spending to spur innovation and reduce GST on medical devices to 5 per cent thereby resulting in improved health outcomes.”

Arnab Basumallik, Director-Government Affairs, Edwards Lifesciences added, “We welcome the increased capital expenditure layout from 5.54 L Cr. to 7.5 L Cr . With effective grant-in to the states the capital expenditure can increase to 10.68 L Cr. We expect a good part of it will be spend on building healthcare infrastructure, as per the aspirations of National Infrastructure pipeline – in building 73 state of the art hospitals, tertiary hospitals in every district, secondary hospitals in every sub-division and primary health care and diagnostic centers in block levels. Enhanced expenditure on improving logistics under Gati -Shakti will improve transportation infrastructure which will also benefit the last mile deliverables of medical technologies. Perhaps the biggest gain for health care medical technologies will be derived from the spent on launch of Aysuman Bharat Digital health mission which will help in keeping un-biased patient data collection and utilisation in anonymous form which will help in identifying unmet patient needs, improve patient care and help in future R&D endeavors, as India have a vast genetic pool of patients. We also note emphasis s made on mental health which is a positive development.”

Sanjeev Dahiwadkar, Founder & CEO of Cognota Healthcare added, “The Union Budget 2022 has taken many steps in putting healthcare at the centre of India’s approach to power its future growth. The proposal of launching a National Tele Mental Health Programme is a move in the right direction to provide better access to quality mental health counselling and care services. Proposal to create an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem is also a welcome move. However, with the non-reduction of the GST on medical devices and the lack of tax rationalisation of healthcare services, the government has missed an opportunity to make healthcare affordable for billions of citizens. The pandemic has put healthcare at a pivotal position and the government should provide the right policy environment in the form of tax concessions, investment-friendly regulations till the society develops collective skills to deal with the new normal.”

- Advertisement -

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.