“We applaud the Finance Minister’s call for a Swastha Bharat Smridha Bharat (Healthy India Progressive India) and focus on healthcare delivery and access. The National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) and enhancing the cover to INR 5 lakhs from INR 30,000 to cover 100 million families per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization, is a step in the right direction. Further, we are encouraged by the path-breaking intervention on healthcare access through an allocation of INR 1200 crores for the flagship Ayushman Bharat programme under which 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres will provide free essential drugs and services. The announcement of upgrading district medical colleges to twenty four (24) new government medical college & hospitals translating to one medical college per three (3) parliamentary constituencies will also improve access.
However, despite a significant rise in allocation to the health sector in the Budget 2017-18, the overall government expenditure on health remains extraordinarily low amounting to 0.3% of GDP and continues to be much lower than the health spends of comparable developing economies. It is also of concern that despite the complex challenges in the healthcare sector, a significant portion of health funds remain unutilized. These issues continue to remain unaddressed.
While we eagerly await the implementation details of these schemes, OPPI members remain committed to working with the Government towards realizing our collective vision of a healthy and progressive India.”