Move to set up 157 new nursing colleges, launch of mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047 a hit among medical professionals
Medical experts say the Budget failed to meet the expectation for a reduction in import duty for medical equipment. Representation pic
The medical fraternity has welcomed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s health budget on Wednesday. The minister has announced a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047, opening of 157 nursing medical colleges and research and development on a public-private partnership basis among other measures. Healthcare service providers, however, added that there was a need for more fund allocation. Experts also said that there was a need to reduce import duty on medical equipment, but the Budget did not meet the expectation.
The Union Budget 2023-24 has allocated a whopping Rs 88,956 crore to health expenditure—a 2.71 per cent or Rs 2,350 crore hike as compared to the last year. Last year, the health ministry was given Rs 86,200.65 crore, a hike of 16 per cent from Rs 73,931.77 allotted in 2021-2022.
Gautam Khanna, CEO of P D Hinduja Hospital and chairman of FICCI Health Services, said “Budget 2023-24 focused on enhancing India’s capabilities and resources through increased manpower, R&D, and PPP in the healthcare sector. Setting up 157 new nursing colleges is welcome in view of the severe shortage of nurses in the country.”
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“The budgeted increase in healthcare expenditure does not seem enough to tide over the current challenges of upgradation of infrastructure and providing accessibility and affordability for quality healthcare in the country. We are looking forward to clear indications of the steps to be implemented for healthcare infrastructure development and move closer towards universal health coverage with increased expenditure as a percentage of GDP,” Khanna said.
Dr Ishwar Gilada, infectious diseases expert and secretary general of Organised Medicine Academic Guild, said, “The government has not learned a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic. There is only a 2 per cent hike in the health budget. If you see the budget, the allocation to the Department of Health Research is just R2,980 crore, or 3.3 per cent of the health budget, which is too low. We hope there will be some more allocation in the supplementary budget.”
Dr Tarang Gianchandani, CEO of Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, said, “Investment towards nursing colleges is a progressive move as that is the need of the hour. In addition, PPP would be encouraged to ensure the government gets adequate support from private players.”
Dr Avinash Supe, director, clinical governance and head, Hinduja Hospital in Khar, said, “The budget didn’t meet expectations but it is not bad. The government increased the budget for health by 3 per cent, but we were expecting removal or reduction of GST from healthcare as well as reduction of import duty on medical equipment.”
Budget allocation for health expenditure