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Budget reaction: OPPI

Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) welcomes the Finance Minister’s proposal to increase the budget outlay for healthcare marginally from last year’s revised estimates of Rs 69, 234 crore to Rs 71,269 crore.

It is also a welcome step that Rs 35,000 crores are allocated for COVID-19 vaccine and the assurance that any additional spending required would be allocated for the vaccine.

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It has been the demand of the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors to increase the public spending on healthcare from below one per cent of GDP level to at least 2.5 per cent of GDP. 

OPPI is glad to note the Rs 64,180 crore PM AtmaNirbharSwasth Bharat Yojana over six years to develop capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare systems, strengthen existing institutions, new institutions, and focus on detection and cure of new diseases. 

OPPI also welcomes the support to rural and urban health and wellness centres, public health labs, strengthening the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC, connecting the Integrated Health Information Portal to public health labs, setting up new public health units at the borders and in the country, setting up emergency operation centres, bio-safety laboratories and regional virology centres.

Efforts to intensify strategy to improve nutritional outcomes across aspirational districts would also help the health status citizens in rural areas.

It’s glad to note that COVID-19 has brought in sharp focus on healthcare, and the government has laid out a slew of measures to increase the spending in drinking water and sanitation for the overall improvement of personal and public hygiene with a total outlay of Rs 111,944 crore, a steep jump from last year. However, much needs to be done to improve healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP.

OPPI also welcomes the proposal to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 to increase the permissible FDI limit in the insurance sector from 49 per cent to 74 per cent to allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards. This would help global health insurance companies to have a focused interest in the country. 

However, it has been disappointing that the Finance Minister has not specifically laid out any modalities to improve biopharmaceutical research. OPPI hopes the five-year outlay of Rs 50,000 crores to strengthen the overall research ecosystem and to identify national-priority thrust areas would have a focussed approach to improve bio-pharmaceutical research in the country.

 

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