Budget 2016: Higher allocation needed for better healthcare services

With low insurance penetration, quality healthcare facilities remain beyond the reach of the poor. Public healthcare is battling medical negligence as well as infrastructure, technological issues.
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Home » News » Economy

Feb 29, 2016, 10.17 AM | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Budget 2016: Higher allocation needed for better healthcare services

With low insurance penetration, quality healthcare facilities remain beyond the reach of the poor. Public healthcare is battling medical negligence as well as infrastructure, technological issues.

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Budget 2016: Higher allocation needed for better healthcare services

With low insurance penetration, quality healthcare facilities remain beyond the reach of the poor. Public healthcare is battling medical negligence as well as infrastructure, technological issues.

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Public healthcare services in the country have remained by and large erratic even as the economy has grown at a fast clip over the last decade. India’s government spending on healthcare, at less than 1.5 percent of GDP, is among the lowest in the world compared to peers.

With low insurance penetration, quality healthcare facilities remain beyond the reach of the poor. Public healthcare is battling medical negligence as well as infrastructure, technological issues.

More embarrassingly for India, small countries like Bangladesh have fared better in being able reduce infant mortality.

According to the Macro Economic Survey 2015-16 quoting NSSO statistics, average medical expenditure for treatment (excluding child birth) per hospitalized case if treated in private hospital was about four times than that of public hospital during 2014.

Another challenge is the shortage of specialists, doctors, staff nurses, anesthetists, and others, which adversely affects the outreach of health services, especially in rural areas.

The 2015 Budget allocated Rs 29,700 crore for healthcare, barely 2 percent higher than what was allocated in the previous Budget. Worse still, there was no mention of the universal health assurance, a proposal to provide essential medicines and health cover at affordable prices.

Given a still struggling economy, Budget 2016 may not hike healthcare spend sharply. Public private partnership could be one of the ways to bring quality healthcare services within the reach of the poor.

A healthcare panel, led by the Revenue Secretary, has recommended a Rs 11,000 crore mega healthcare scheme, reports CNBC-TV18. Of this, Rs 6,600 crore will be contributed by center and the rest by States.

The panel has recommended changes in life and health insurance policies as well as bulk procurement of drugs for poor. The panel has also recommended opening 1,000 stores for generic drugs at low cost, which will be set ups via public private partnership (PPP) model, the source added.

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