Union Budget Mumbai

Health allocations disappointing, say activists

They also fear that proposed plan to set up hospitals through PPPs is an attempt to offer health infrastructure to private players

Healthcare specialists and activists have termed the health allocations in Saturday’s Union Budget as extremely disappointing. A negligible increase in the overall health budget, lack of thought to preventive healthcare and move towards privatisation are some of the points that experts said were worrisome. The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a people’s health movement has called the Budget a mere “bubble of words”.

Activists said that ₹69,000 crore allocation for health is hardly any increase. For better public healthcare services, the government should have allocated at least ₹93,000 crore. “If you factor in the inflation, there is practically no increase in the allocation,” said health activist and researcher Ravi Duggal adding that the Budget is not at par with the idea of universal healthcare.

Ayushman Bharat

While there are about 20,000 empanelled hospitals on the government’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), there is a need for hospitals in Tier 2 and 3 cities. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday announced that hospitals will be set up through public private partnerships. But health experts fear this is a mere attempt to offer health care to private players. “Instead of utilising the available infrastructure and improving it, the government wants to set up new infrastructure on PPP models. How is that logical?” asked Dr Abhijit More, co-convenor of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan. “If you see the fine details, the government is simply offering its infrastructure on a platter to the private players,” he added.

According to Dr. Prince Surana, director of Surana Group of Hospitals, the government should have increased the allocation to Ayushman Bharat scheme so that the rate of reimbursements would have been better and more hospitals would participate in the scheme.

“With this, the patient’s out of pocket expenses would have been directly reduced,” said Dr. Surana.

Health activist Dr. Arun Gadre said that the government’s plans to upgrade wellness centres was seen as a positive step in preventive healthcare. “We were hoping that the allocations will improve in this Budget, but the government has chosen to completely ignore this aspect,” said Dr. Gadre.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 11:36:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/health-allocations-disappointing-say-activists/article30716775.ece

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