New Delhi: The government's decision to allocate Rs 33,152 crore for health with special emphasis on improving the public health sector was Saturday hailed by health experts who said the decision to set up new medical institutions will be a boon for the public.
"This budget in all is a forward-looking and stable budget. By linking financial inclusion (Jan Dhan Yojna), social security and health insurance agendas, the finance minister has provided a holistic roadmap for greater access for all in the future," said Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd. managing director Suneeta Reddy.
She said the health exemptions provided for all and, in particular, for the elderly were major positive decisions.
"Also the government's decision to announce six new AIIMS-like institutes will both increase access to health facilities in those states and also provide a training ground for medical professionals," she told IANS.
To boost medical services for the public, the government decided to set up six AIIMS-like institutions in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Bihar.
With it, the number of such super specialty institutes has gone up to 14 in the country.
The government's allocation to the health sector has seen a 5.7 percent decrease in the 2015-16 budget, as the sum in the 2014-15 budget was Rs.35,163 crore.
Emphasising on the future prospects of the health tourism in the country, experts also said the visa on arrival for 150 countries will go a long way in facilitating medical tourism.
Rajit Mehta, deputy managing director for Max Healthcare, said the Indian health care sector will gain a lot from the budget as it was completely "pro public".
"Prevention is better than cure and we applaud the finance minister's efforts to focus on preventive healthcare for our citizens by targeting six crore toilets under the Swachh Bharat campaign," Mehta told IANS.
Rajeev K. Sharma, a joint replacement surgeon at Indraprastha Apollo hospital, said the finance minister's new scheme of providing physical aid for senior citizens was an encouraging move.
"The budget's overall emphasis on cleanliness initiatives in line with the Swachh Bharat campaign seems fresh and positive. I am particularly happy about the target of six crore new toilets. This is a major healthcare issue and I am happy that in the past few years our public policy and awareness initiatives have started giving this issue its due," Sharma said.
Rajkumar Chaudhary, secretary of the Association of Hospitals, said AIIMS was one of the key highlights of the union budget.
"AIIMS-like university across India will improve the overall healthcare scenario in the country."
The government has allocated the Ayush ministry, which until last year was under the health ministry, a sum of Rs.1,214 crore in the budget.
Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India, said the budget was very growth-oriented with a major focus on boosting economic development through structural changes and reforms.