Affordability and accessibility-focussed Budget for Healthcare, says NATHEALTH

New Delhi [India], Feb. 3 : India's apex healthcare body, NATHEALTH has termed the overall Union Budget 2017-18 as progressive, with some unmet needs.

NATHEALTH applauded the government's focus on elimination of chronic/communicable diseases in a time-bound manner and improvement of access to healthcare and said that the Government has focussed on bridging the accessibility/affordability gap for the under-privileged.

"Finance Minister's Budget clearly focusses on improving healthcare access for the less privileged and on 'preventive and wellness', both of which are very encouraging.

Target of transforming 1.5 lakh health sub - centers into health wellness centers is in line with the need of the hour for the Indian citizens," said Anjan Bose, Secretary General, NATHEALTH, while reacting to the Union Budget 2017-18 proposals.

NATHEALTH pointed out that creating additional 5,000 post graduate seats per annum would help in creating adequate availability of specialist doctors to strengthen secondary and tertiary levels of healthcare.

The addition of two more AIIMS should also add to these efforts. NATHEALTH also feels that separate Aadhar-linked health cards for the senior citizens, Rs. 6, 000 aid for every pregnant woman, accreditation of colleges and increasing budget for road safety, rural health and Swachh Bharat should all add up to improving health of the masses.

"Annual addition of 5, 000 PG seats and focus on DNB courses are good attempts to address the serious demand - supply gaps in availability of skilled healthcare professionals.

New rules for medical devices and amendment in Drugs and Cosmetics Act would rationalise the cost of medicine and devices.

The decision aims at making healthcare more affordable to the people," said Bose. NATHEALTH had also recommended the creation of Health Infrastructure Fund and Medical Innovation Fund to meet the funding requirements of the sector.

However, these funding provisions could not find place in this year's budget announcement. NATHEALTH also said that the sector would have got a major boost had the government accorded the "National Priority Sector Status", as recommended by it.

Priority Sector status to healthcare would have helped in the process of enabling development of innovative long term financing structures for healthcare providers apart from creating a more attractive environment for domestic production of medical equipment, devices and consumables while also catalysing research and development.

This would channelise funds from the banking sector for creating necessary healthcare infrastructure and further help in meeting the healthcare sector's needs across the country.

Source: ANI