Budget 2021: Healthcare workers and professionals yearn to restructure the health budget

The government should increase healthcare expenditure in the ensuing budget for ramping up the infrastructure in the sector, healthcare service providers have said. Rapid and proactive actions of the government and the tireless efforts of healthcare workers helped the country navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, however, it exposed the chinks in the healthcare system and highlighted the need for a major infrastructure restructuration.

“The public spend in healthcare needs to increase from the current 1.2% to at least 2.5% of GDP in the next 3 years, much of which should be invested in creating and modernising our infrastructure,” Dilip Jose, CEO Manipal Manipal Hospitals.

“The pandemic has completely changed the dynamics of the Indian healthcare ecosystem,” said Preetha Reddy, Apollo Hospitals Executive Vice-Chairperson and NATHEALTH President.

The need of the hour is to strengthen the provisioning of healthcare services through public-private partnerships and also to emphasize:

  • Increase in public healthcare expenditure
  •  Incentivize private investment in healthcare infrastructure
  • Focus on preventive care and wellness
  • Expand health insurance coverage
  • Encourage the development of the digital health ecosystem
  • Invest in increasing healthcare manpower and skilling
  • Rationalize GST on healthcare products and services

“While the healthcare segment has been a key focus area and part of country’s development plan through various comprehensive initiatives including Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat, National Digital Health Mission and now ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’, the long-term response to the virus needs a significant part of budget allocation,” SRL Diagnostics CEO Anand K said.

Moreover, highlighting the expectations from the budget, Metropolis Healthcare Promoter & MD Ameera Shah said, “The lack of adequate public health infrastructure in India combined with a high Out-of-pocket expenditure imposes a high financial burden on Indian households and therefore increasing the healthcare budget allocation in the coming decade is of the utmost importance”.

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