Healthy or not so healthy Budget 2013-14?

By ZRG | Updated: Mar 02, 2013, 13:29 PM IST

Zee Research Group

The Union Budget proposal to integrate rural and urban heath missions has been received well though experts lamented the rather ‘poor’ outlay under the combined scheme.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s 2013-14 Budget offered among others a host of proposals on the health sector laying special focus on medical education, research and training.

The UPA government’s ambitious project ‘National Urban Health Mission’ focusing on providing basic health care services to the urban poor has been grouped with the National Rural Health Mission under one umbrella named as the ‘New National Health Mission’.

The budgetary allocation under this mission has been fixed at Rupees 21,239 crore, which is an increase of 24.3 percent over the revised expenditure.

Expressing his dissatisfaction on the budgetary allocations made for health sector this year, Dr. Sunil Mehra, executive director at Mamta, a health focus non-governmental organization, Delhi, said, “The budget is really disappointing as the allocations made under the National Health Mission is not at all sufficient to cater to the quality care and infrastructural development.”

“It is not only ideal to give free services to the poor but the services provided should be of high quality,” argued Dr. Mehra at Mamta.

Special emphasis has been laid on medical education, training and research and this sector has been allocated an amount of Rupees4, 727 crore.

The six AIIMS-like institutions have admitted their first batch of students in the academic session that commenced in September 2012. The hospitals attached to the colleges will be functional in 2013-14.

They will be provided a sum of Rupees 1, 650 crore for these institutions.

Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy are being mainstreamed through the National Health Mission. Rupees 1, 069 crore has been allocated to the Department of AYUSH. Also, the National Programme for the Healthcare of Elderly, implemented in 100 districts of 21 states, got Rupees 150 crore.

Terming it an average budget but a better one than last year, Rajiv Tewari, director, health & wellness at Rockland Hospital, Delhi, said, “It’s better than the last year`s budget as it has given some benefits for the old and has kept a higher spend for Medical Education and Training.”The Finance Minister has missed many important decisions in the current budget that could have energised the health sector and fueled its growth. Reiterating the view, Tewari at Rockland Hospital concurred, “The health care sector needs to be given the industry status which will lower the interest rate of debt which was not mentioned in the budget.”

“Also, removal of import duty on costly diagnostic equipments for MRI and CT etc would have brought down the cost of health care and would have allowed new technology to come into our country as these equipments are fully imported as of now,” lamented Tewari at Rockland Hospital.