Budget 2021: Healthcare sector gets much-needed boost

Amid a global pandemic, this was one of the sectors which needed the most attention


In the Budget 2021 address, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced fillips for the healthcare sector. Sitharaman said India has two coronavirus vaccines available, and has begun safeguarding not only her own citizens against COVID-19 but also those of 100 or more countries. She announced Rs 27 lakh crore COVID support measures, which amounts to almost 13 per cent of country's GDP, and lauded the success of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative. "We have announced 35,000 crore rupees for COVID vaccine, and, for the health sector, we have a budget outlay of Rs 2,23,846 crore, which up 137 per cent compared to Rs 94,452 crore in previous years."

Healthcare service providers had earlier urged government to increase healthcare spend in budget. "The public spend in healthcare needs to increase from the current 1.2 per cent to at least 2.5 per cent of GDP in the next 3 years, much of which should be invested in creating and modernising our infrastructure. Hopefully, the budget for 2021-22 would take the important first step towards this," Manipal Hospitals MD & CEO Dilip Jose said in a statement.

"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 revamp," he added.

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 utmost importance".

The need of the hour is to strengthen the provisioning of healthcare services through public-private partnerships, she added.

"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. had said.