The targeted areas in the health sector reflected the emphasis on “social inclusivity” by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Interim Budget 2024-25 speech. From extending Ayushman Bharat scheme to all ASHA, Anganwadi workers and helpers to encouraging cervical cancer immunization for girls in the age group of 9-14 to expedition of Poshan 2.0, maternal and child care campaign to Mission Indradhanush, the announcements in the health sector embodied the benefits planned for targeted groups, especially women and poor.
Welcoming the Interim Budget, experts said that the measures pertaining to the health sector will certainly help address some key issues. “Initiatives like the establishment of a committee to create additional medical colleges by leveraging existing hospital infrastructure, promoting vaccination for girls to prevent cervical cancer and expanding Ayushman Bharat scheme to workers, are steps in the right direction,” said D.S. Negi, chief executive hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre.
Ayushman Bharat is a central flagship scheme to achieve universal health coverage.
Said Sanjay Bhutani, board member, Mtal and managing director, Bausch and Lomb: “With scheme like cervical cancer vaccination for younger girls and covering Anganwadi and ASHA workers under Ayushman Bharat, this budget emphasizes on healthcare, especially for women, young and children.”
Tejinder Pal Singh, founder director, pharma, healthcare and life sciences, Transearch India, said, “The Interim Budget has paved the way for India to achieve universal health coverage and addresses some long standing gaps in healthcare ecosystem. The stability and continuity of healthcare policies will further encourage the momentum of a strategic shift.”
The finance minister said that the newly designed U-WIN platform for managing immunisation and intensified efforts of Mission Indradhanush will be rolled out expeditiously throughout the country. U-WIN has been designed to maintain an electronic registry of routine immunisations and supplement Mission Indradhanush that aims to achieve more than 90 per cent full immunisation coverage in the country.
Poshan 2.0, an integrated nutrition support programme, will be expedited for improved nutrition delivery, early childhood care and development, besides various other schemes under maternal and child healthcare.
“These measures will certainly help increase access to quality healthcare, especially women and prevent life-threatening diseases,” Negi added.