Announcements made by the FM are on expected lines and suggested reforms will cater to both present and future needs. The government’s holistic approach to health with a focus on strengthening three areas: Preventive, curative and wellbeing are commendable.
The rural health and wellness system needs to be significantly strengthened to enable people to seek appropriate treatment without moving to urban areas. Allocations for setting up health and wellness centres in rural areas will make healthcare more accessible, and this will also reduce the stress on urban healthcare facilities.
The importance of good critical care systems cannot be understood better than in pandemic times. We lag behind in such facilities, and there is still a long way to go. Nonetheless, the government is taking a step in the right direction, but speedy implementation will hold key to the desired outcome.
Strengthening institutions like the National Centre for Disease Control will ensure concerted action in disease control, and a well empowered and independent institution can have a strong impact. The role of institutional setups cannot be undermined in a complex and diverse socio-economic set up like India.
Setting up of 15 Health Emergency Operation Centres and two mobile hospitals are novel concepts, and this will ensure that facilities are available where they are most needed.
The budget outlay for health and wellbeing is Rs 2,23,846 crores in BE 2021-22 as against this year’s BE of Rs 94,452 crores, that is, an increase of 137 per cent. Whilst a significant amount of the outlay is to meet the urgent requirement of the Covid vaccine, the other outlays for health and wellbeing will contribute to stronger healthcare and well-being system. That said, we have historically made limited allocations to healthcare, and we will have to continue investing in our healthcare system to make it relevant, sustainable and accessible.