While announcing the 2021-22 budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced a 137% increase in the health and wellness budget, which is Rs.2,23,846 crore.
This budget covers schemes of other ministries as well, such as POSHAN Abhiyan under the Women and Child Development ministry, Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) under the Department of Water and Sanitation.
Out of this amount, Rs. 71,269 crores are allocated for the Department of Health and Family Welfare, an increase of 9.6% over the budget allocation (Rs. 65,012 crores) on Financial Year 2020-21. This is; however, lower than the revised estimates for the financial year 2020-21 (Rs. 78,866 crores).
Of the health and well-being budget Rs. 35,000 crore will be spent on producing and distributing the covid-19 vaccine. Mrs. Suchitra Ella, Joint Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, commented, “The new health infra schemes with a significantly higher outlay of ₹35,000 crores for Bharat’s mega COVID-19 vaccination drive is a huge fiscal medicine to contain the pandemic, reduce disease burden for the population, and the economy.”
While some others are welcoming the government’s budget allocation, as Prem Sharma, CEO of Day to Day Health, stated “The enhanced allocation along with the plan to look at healthcare as a whole by including nutrition, sanitation, clean drinking water, and pollution control augur well for the country is a very welcome step”.
Some public health organizations are concerned about the decrease in budgetary allocations of family health welfare schemes, like the Population Foundation of India an NGO denoted out that the budget is reduced by 35% from Rs. 600 crores in FY 2020-21 to Rs. 387.15 crores in FY 2021-22 of centrally planned family welfare schemes that provide contraceptives to states.
Finance Minister declared PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana with the total expenditure of ₹64,180 crores for 6 years, to strengthen health sector institutions at various levels of the economy, build new institutes for the detection and cure of various emerging diseases.
This scheme aims to support 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centers, establish integrated public health labs in all districts, strengthen the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its five regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units, establish nine Bio-Safety Level III laboratories and four regional National Institutes of Virology.
Currently, the expenditure on the health sector is 1.6% of GDP, as compared to 2.5% as envisaged by the Government’s National Health Policy 2017. A similar statement was given by Prime Minister Modi while addressing the Partners’ Forum in 2018 that the government is set to increase its spending on public health to 2.5 percent of the GDP. Investment in the healthcare sector has always been neglected despite its crumbling state.
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