Need priority status for healthcare: Healthcare Federation

New Delhi, Jan 29 : As the Centre gears up for the Budget, the Healthcare Federation of India (NATHEALTH) on Monday urged the government to give priority sector status to healthcare as it would help innovative long-term financing structures for healthcare providers.

According to the federation, the move will channelise funds from the banking sector to create necessary healthcare infrastructure and meet societal objectives of the government.

"Priority Sector status to healthcare will help in the process of enabling development of innovative long-term financing structures for healthcare providers.

"This benefit will be apart from creating an attractive environment for domestic production of medical equipment, devices and consumables while also catalysing research and development," said Anjan Bose, Secretary General, NATHEALTH in a statement.

Mentioning that healthcare was included in the harmonised master list of infrastructure sub-sectors by the Reserve Bank of India in 2012, the federation has said long-term financing options are still not available for healthcare providers.

NATHEALTH said that access to timely credit with priority status and funding by creating a specific fund for healthcare infrastructure and innovation would facilitate access to capital for the sector.

"These funds would encourage entrepreneurship and newer business models which are the need of the hour for improving access, availability and quality, especially in Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4 cities and rural areas.

"The government can consider providing the seed capital for such funds."

NATHEALTH said that despite experiencing substantial economic progress over the last 25 years, India continues to rank low on many of the basic health indicators.

"Apart from trailing developed nations, India compares unfavourably even with its economic peers, other Asian countries and many of its neighbours.

Against a world average of around four hospital beds per 1,000 population, India lags behind at just over 0.9 beds per 1,000," it said.

Quoting the CRISIL Research estimates, the NATHEALTH said that in order to meet the global median on healthcare delivery parameters, India will be required to make investments of over Rs 7 lakh crore over the next five years.



Source: IANS