Health remains a blind spot in Union Budget, says IMA

Health remains a blind spot in Union Budget, says IMA

Agency News

New Delhi, Jul 6: Indian Medical Association on Saturday said the Union Budget is a 'huge disappointment' as health remains the only subject which Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has preferred to 'downplay'.

'There is no clarity of enhancement of investment in Ayushman Bharat PMJAY either. The atmosphere of violence in our hospitals is directly due to inadequacy of infrastructure and human resources in the public sector and out of pocket expenditure in the private sector. 15.4 per cent higher allocation is a myth and provides for only the inflation. There is absolutely no indication of any vision towards raising the Public Health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of GDP,' the IMA said in a statement here.

Allocation of Rs 2,000 crore for converting district hospitals into new medical colleges and Rs 1,361 crore for strengthening government medical colleges (MBBS) are however, the only silver streaks among the lacklustre budget.

'Had the Government extended the Insurance Coverage under Ayushman Bharat to primary care, thousands of clinics and small hospitals situated in rural and semi urban area would have participated. This would have made both the Ayushman Bharat and the small hospitals viable and sustainable,' it said.

The Association said, 'it is concerned that the small and medium hospitals will be decimated with the current design of Health Care and demanded a review of the concept and operational aspects of Ayushman Bharat while demanding more allocation for Health.'

Meanwhile, on Friday Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said the budget for the Health Ministry shows an appreciable increase of more than18.67 per cent increase in the total outlay. This reflects the importance accorded to the health sector in the country, he added. There is an additional Rs 9859.12 crore allocated in BE 2019-20 against BE 2018-19.

The BE 2018-19 was Rs 52800 crore, whereas that of the current FY is Rs 62659.12 crore, he said.

'The flagship programme, Ayushmman Bharat has seen an increase of 154.87 per cent (Rs 4956 crore) which covers the two pillars of Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and PMJAY. There has been an increase of 92.44 per cent (Rs. 402.06 crore) over previous year in the ASHA Benefit package, whereas an additional Rs 450.01 crore (8.57 per cent increase) has been allocated for immunisation,women and children,' Dr Vardhan said. (UNI)