Budget has given adequate emphasis to healthcare sector: Gautam Khanna, P D Hinduja Hospital

Initiatives such as the Aadhaar-based health smart cards for senior citizens is commendable.

Feb 03, 2017 02:02 IST India Infoline News Service

The Budget 2017-18 presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitely has given the healthcare sector few initiatives that have been in the wish list for long.

WHO states that every country needs to have an average of 2.5 doctors per 1,000 people. However, we have a ratio of 0.7 doctors per 1,000. The Governments present focus and attention on closing this gap by introducing 5000 post graduate seats every year, and encouraging private and district hospitals to roll out DNB medical courses, strengthening PG teaching in select ESI and Municipal Corporation Hospitals and the commitment to take necessary steps for structural transformation of the Regulatory framework of medical education and practice in India, is the kind of support and boost we need to successfully close this gap.

Initiatives such as the Aadhaar-based health smart cards for senior citizens is commendable. The Rs 500 crore allocation to set up Mahila Shakti Kendras is welcome but the increase in total allocation for women and child welfare from 1.56 to 1.84 lakh crore is not ample. The proposal to transform 1.5 lakh health sub-centres to health wellness centres is virtuous; however, the infrastructure, equipment, staff and other aspects would need to be looked into.

The budget presented today doesn’t talk about any steps towards incentivizing the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. There has also been no word on the need to boost health insurance. Even though new initiatives has been announced for healthcare sector, we were expecting a boost to the overall healthcare spends, which currently hovers around 1.5% of GDP – too low considering the population size and too low compared to other developed and developing countries.

I believe that in the coming years, the Indian healthcare can be further improved by taking concrete steps towards public health expenditure, infrastructure and PPP.

The author, Gautam Khanna is CEO P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC.

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