Budget 2018: Arun Jaitley seeks CSR funds for govt’s flagship health scheme
New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday invited corporate and philanthropic entities to invest funds into “health and wellness centres”, which shall be set up as part of the government’s flagship National Health Policy 2017.
Under the National Health Policy 2017, which is one of the two initiatives under the government’s Ayushman Bharat programme, 150,000 health and wellness centres will be established across the country. “I am committing Rs1,200 crore in this budget for this flagship programme. I also invite contribution of private sector through CSR (corporate social responsibility) and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres,” Jaitley said.
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The finance minister emphasized that these centres are aimed at bringing the healthcare system at the doorsteps of people, and would provide comprehensive healthcare for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services, among others. “These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services,” he added.
Companies have traditionally focused significantly on healthcare. According to the National CSR portal, the government’s online platform for capturing and consolidating CSR data, an estimated 19,184 companies have spent over Rs4,330 crore in financial year 2015-16 on CST programmes on healthcare and sanitation. Provisional data on FY2016-17 suggests that 6,286 businesses have spent about Rs1,201 crore on this area of CSR intervention. According to the Mint-Goodera analysis of the CSR activities of top 100 National Stock Exchange (NSE)-listed companies by market capitalisation, companies spent about Rs1,715 crore on healthcare, hunger and poverty in FY17.
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The Ayushman Bharat programme is aimed at making “path breaking interventions” to address health “holistically” in primary, secondary and tertiary care system, covering both prevention and health promotion, and termed it as “the foundation of India’s health system”, said the finance minister.
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