The Union budget seems to be a mixed bag. There has been an increase of 137 per cent in the overall health budget, and this is a very good sign – it demonstrates the government’s high priority towards the healthcare segment. The government has announced the PM Aatmanirbhar Swastha Bharat Yojana which will have an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore over the next six years, and this will be in addition to the National Health Mission. Rs 35,000 crore has been allocated for covid vaccination drive.
The government plans to set up Integrated Public Health Labs which will be a boost to early detection of the ailments and diseases. National Centre for Disease Control will be further strengthened; Emergency Health centres will be established and the government is readying the National Digital Health Blueprint.
On the manufacturing end, the PLI schemes will be further enhanced and this is likely to benefit the healthcare manufacturing segment as well.
There is an effort to boost the startup and MSME segment, and this will also positively impact the healthcare segment. Collateral free loans, fund for funds to be set up, and the restructuring of the MSME definition will all boost the manufacturing segment and this will have a positive impact on the healthcare segment
But what has been missing from the details are focus on Make-in-India and the medical devices segment. We were looking forward to the change in duty structure in favour of home-grown companies, but this doesn’t seem to have been addressed. Also expected was a concerted focus on creating the right ecosystem and environment – Medical Devices manufacturing hubs, that provide the right mix of common infrastructure, facilities, and subsidies for technological upgradation to increase sustainability and economies of scale. But this on first view, doesn’t seem to be a priority.