The year 2020 with COVID-19 pandemic hit home the fact that strong healthcare infrastructure is absolutely essential to ensure a sustainable economy. The need is to at least double the healthcare budget from last year’s meagre allocation that would help to improve access to affordable care for the masses. The 2021-2022 Budget should aim to create capacities for vaccinating India’s large population against Covid 19 which is key to end the pandemic and revive the economy.
However, if healthcare expenditure causes poverty, then there is a serious problem and hence, there is a need to focus on health insurance that aims to simplify adoption and use and is affordable for everyone. On a positive note, this pandemic has been a wake-up call for the healthcare sector in India, where the authorities came face to face with issues plaguing the medical technology industry.
Last year the finance minister had allocated a paltry Rs 69,000 crore (1.29 per cent of GDP), inclusive of Rs 6,400 crore for Jan Arogya Yojana, to the healthcare budget.
“Over the last year, we witnessed government and private hospitals tackle the pandemic brilliantly and save many lives. For the upcoming Union Budget 2021, we urge the government to give adequate importance to the healthcare sector,” said Dr Alok Khullar, CEO, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai.
He urges the government to give more focused importance to the health care system in India. It is the most essential sector for the minimal survival of the masses. He gives voice to his thoughts thus:
- To recognise the industry status of healthcare along with all benefits and at the same time, prioritising sectors like IT and Manufacturing.
- He also says that reduction in taxes and import duties would help the hospitals to adopt high-end technologies and import the latest types of equipment from other countries. This would in turn help in the improvement of quality of care at an affordable price.
- Access to capitals should be at a discounted rate and for a longer tenure so that the healthcare organisations are able to manage their working capital reducing the overall cost of operation of hospitals.
- He further adds to enlightened the doctors, nurses and other healthcare officials with special schemes to help the working class enhance their required skills to take care of the nation.
- ‘Make in India’ campaign to be highlighted with respect to the manufacturing of healthcare equipment and consumable with the aim to provide a high-quality product at a reasonable range.
- Lastly, he urges for subsidies and favourable benefits such as electricity, land rates for the better infrastructure of hospitals.
Today, healthcare providers have embraced technology with virtual consultations, robot-assisted procedures, wearables (AI in medical equipment) that aids for smooth delivery of healthcare functions. The key solution is government-backed technology-driven innovations that facilitate the production and delivery of heath-tech within the country. The pandemic has made us realise the importance of telemedicine, remote monitoring of NCDs, indigenous medical equipment, and the need for ‘surge capacity’ in healthcare