On Monday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed Rs 2,23,846 crore budget outlay for health and well-being for 2021-22. Here is what the healthcare industry shared as it welcomed the aim to strengthen the holistic care approach through preventive, curative care and wellbeing aspects of healthcare.
Commenting on the proposed spending on healthcare, Dr K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India said, “The budget provides a much-needed boost to health, nutrition, sanitation and pollution control, all of which will contribute to improved health and wellbeing. Primary health care is receiving more support, with even the previously neglected urban component getting new health and wellness centres. The strengthening of disease surveillance system across the country and entry points to the country as well as the laboratory capacity in all districts is also needed for pandemic prevention and epidemic response.”
Deloitte India partner and leader (Lifesciences and Healthcare) Charu Sehgal said, “The budget 2021 has provided the much expected increase in public expenditure on healthcare. There appears to be an integrated approach whereby both the short term and immediate needs as well as the longer term measures have been proposed…The budget has also looked at healthcare holistically and focused on other determinants of health such as nutrition, water and sanitation and air quality. Prevention and wellness have thus been a key focus. What seems to be missing was the support and boost that was expected to encourage private investment in healthcare infrastructure as well in manufacture of medical devices. There was also no mention of specific support and incentives for R&D and innovation for the Pharma and Medical technology. It was the private sector that really rose to the challenge during the last year whether it was on innovation or manufacture of drugs, devices and vaccines or on testing and treatment and it was expected that it will be provided a boost.”
Asia Healthcare Holding executive chairman Vishal Bali said, “The focus on healthcare with Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana with an outlay of Rs 64, 180 crore over 6 yrs shows that healthcare capacity building is now a key priority for the government…The overall capital expenditure increase of 26% should drive infrastructure acceleration, the much-needed GDP growth driver. Insurance sector which is an important pillar for any country should see exponential growth with an enhancement of FDI limit to 74% from 49%. Overall a forward-looking budget to drive the 11% GDP growth for India in FY22 as pegged in the Economic survey 2020”
Allergan India managing director Suresh Pattathil said, “The significant increase in budgetary support for the health sector is most welcome. The hope is that this will make a measurable difference to the access and delivery of high-quality healthcare for all. However, India’s health challenges are huge and require a high degree of collaboration between the public and private health sectors to improve healthcare access, increase insurance cover, bring down out of pocket expenses and ensure a good supply of new innovative drugs. The Indian pharmaceutical industry needs a strong incentive to invest in making India a pharma research hub for the country and the world.”
PwC India partner and leader (healthcare) Dr Rana Mehta said, “Healthcare spend is proposed to more than double and this will help in rolling out the vaccination program as well as strengthen the delivery system, build better capability and capacity to combat any future pandemics…Besides curative care the focus on preventive and well being will usher in a more holistic approach to reduce morbidity and mortality.”
Roche Diagnostics India managing director Narendra Varde said, “The health care proposals in the 2021 Union Budget, aligned with the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, have given a major impetus to health care reform in the country…Setting up of rural and urban health and wellness centres could be an opportunity to create a PPP model. The partnership-driven approach is a sure step for the entities to bring to these hospitals their inherent areas of strength, thus building a quality model of care. This also allows the private sector to take part in addressing the health needs of the country more effectively.”
Association of Healthcare Providers of India (TN) President Dr S. Gurushankar said, “This is one of the best Budgets in recent years that has put health back on the center-stage as a national priority…The substantial rise in health outlay has met, albeit partially, a long-pending demand for more infusion of state funds into the sector. I hope to see a similar rise each year for the next few years till the government healthcare spend reaches three times the present level, which is the minimum required to effectively safeguard the health of Indians.”