While the 2016 Union budget was expected to focus on the social sector, it doesn’t have much to offer for India’s already shrunken health sector. The new schemes announced are limited to health protection and the national dialysis service programme. And not much priority has been given to the public health challenges of the country resulting from issues such as epidemiological transitions, infectious and degenerative diseases, burden of nutrition and above all escalating healthcare expenditure and poor social and health protection.
It was expected that the budget would take measures to increase the spending on health to at least 2 per cent of the GDP from the existing 1.5 per cent. Unfortunately, the present budget has not made any such drastic change in public health care spending. On the other hand it is encouraging privatisation of health care.
For instance, although the coverage of hospital expenditure looks helpful to people, it could in reality push them more towards the private sector, which could eventually weaken the tertiary healthcare system in the public sector that caters to India’s poor. What it should have done is strengthen tertiary care in public hospitals by upgrading the CHCS, which cater to the rural poor of the country. Similarly, it is not clear whether the new National Dialysis Services Programme is informed adequately from the point of view of epidemiological needs and whether PPP is the desired strategy since it involves a huge user fee.
A social sector- focused budget would have emphasised more on strengthening the existing health service system. Statistics show that there is serious shortage of sub centres, PHCs, CHCs and health personnel in rural India, particularly in the tribal areas. For instance the country is short of 7485 sub centres, 1301 PHCs and 317 CHCs in tribal India alone. Equally important is the strengthening of existing insurance schemes like RSBY, which exclusively covers the poor .
Another area which has been neglected is healthcare education , research and development, measures for cost containment in private healthcare and incentivisation of services of rural healthcare providers, who are the real pillars of India’s health care system.
(Assistant Professor, ISEC)
What Karnataka gets
Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Project (II-1)
Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Project (II-2)
Bangalore Distribution Upgradation Project
Grant to National Institute of Unani Medicine, Bangalore
North Karnataka Urban Sector Investment Program Project
Karnataka State Highway Improvement Project
Karnataka Municipal Reforms Project and
Second Karnataka State Highway Imporvement Project
Namma Metro Allocation: Rs 667 cr
Phase 2 of Namma Metro has received a total outlay of Rs 667 crore in the Union budget. Of this Rs 215 crore is equity and Rs 452 crore, sub-debt. Says Vasanth Rao, general manager (finance), “This is an interest- free loan that we have received from the government of India. We can repay it after all our debts are cleared, may be after 30 years or so.”
National Institute of Mental & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS): Rs 275 cr
All India Institute of Speech & Hearing, Mysuru: Rs 37 cr
Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore & Regional Langues centres: Rs 23 cr
Centre for Soft Matter Research, Bengaluru: Rs 8 cr
Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru: Rs 95.51 cr
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Rsearch, Bengaluru: Rs 50 cr
Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru: Rs 32.78
Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru: Rs 14.50 cr
Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, Bengaluru: Rs 54.12 cr
New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT): Rs 65.33 cr
Boon for kidney patients
With around 2.2 lakh patients afflicted with end stage renal disease in the country every year, resulting in additional demand for 3.4 crore dialysis sessions annually, the government has come out with a National Dialysis Services Programme to provide dialysis in all district hospitals. Says Dr Sushma Rani Raju, HoD and consultant, nephrology, Institute of Renal Sciences, Sakra World Hospital, Bengaluru, “It is good to see the government taking initiative for kidney care, but we will have to wait and see how much of this actually becomes reality Quality should not be compromised as dialysis patients are highly sensitive to infections. Today the major challenge among people on dialysis is affordability and availability. We need to thank our government for taking such a good step forward.”
Health cover up to Rs 1 lakh for every family
The Union government has decided to launch a new scheme to provide health cover of upto Rs.one lakh per family. Senior citizens over 60 will get an additional top-up package of upto Rs 30,000. And to reinvigorate the supply of generic drugs. 3,000 stores are to be opened under the Prime Minister’s Jan Aushadhi Yojana in 2016-17. Says Dr Ajay Bakshi MD and CEO, Manipal Health Enterprises, “While the percentage of the Budgetary allocation for healthcare has not increased, the health cover is a positive move. The National Dialysis Service is definitely a welcoming step which will ensure availability and accessibility of healthcare facilities in rural areas. Overall, the health market players may not be too happy as no major reforms have been announced for the health industry.”
Prof. Narasimhappa, General secretary, Farmers’ Federation of India
This Budget has broken new ground for rural India in general and agriculture in particular. This is the first time a detailed study of rural issues has been done. Every aspect has been taken care of despite sluggish industrial growth. The special focus on agriculture marketing and e-marketing in 12 states, and electrification of rural villages is a very welcome move. The tax benefits will definitely pave the way for start-ups, which could create a revolution in rural areas as educated youth have already started going back to their villages. The government has realized that rural India cannot be neglected and has at least made a small beginning to give it its due.
Anuj Sharma, president, BCIC
The Budget has made a slew of policy-oriented announcements and set targets for infrastructure, the public sector, social and manufacturing sectors, finance and tax reforms, agriculture, education and skilling, which we believe will spur overall economic growth as it has set the right tone for the next three years. It is focused on efficiency and transparency in the long term, ultimately aiming at improving and spurring the economy in the prevalent challenging financial space
Mr Tallam R Dwarakanath, president of FKCCI
It is a comprehensive Budget based on nine distinct pillars. The government has realised the need to transform India in order to have a significant impact on the economy and lives of the people. But technology has to be leveraged to deliver services and benefit the common man. This will lead to a better environment, sustainability and give the economy direction. The focus is on rural, small scale entrepreneurs, traders and the common man. There is a road map for all in this Budget. I appreciate the finance minister for adhering to the fiscal deficit target even under difficult circumstances.