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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Govt hikes health spending in budget 2017
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Govt hikes health spending in budget 2017

As many as 5000 new postgraduate seats in medicine were announced in the budget in order to ensure availability of specialist doctors in smaller towns

The budget included the announcement for the formulation of new rules for regulating medical devices. Photo: Hemant Mishra/MintPremium
The budget included the announcement for the formulation of new rules for regulating medical devices. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

New Delhi: In the Union budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, the health sector was singled out for attention with a slew of measures being announced ranging from ensuring availability of drugs at reasonable prices to availability of specialist doctors to strengthen secondary and tertiary levels of health care to improving India’s infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR).

Jaitley while talking about the health sector said that it is the poor who suffer the maximum from various chronic diseases and as such, “government has prepared an action plan to eliminate kala-azar and filariasis by 2017, leprosy by 2018 and measles by 2020. Elimination of tuberculosis by 2025 is also targeted," he said. Interestingly in 2014 India, Bangladesh, Nepal, under the initiative of the WHO had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to eliminate Kala-Azar by 2018. “I am very happy to see the focus of the government on reducing chronic diseases. India is perhaps the only country in the world that simultaneously battles chronic as well as lifestyle diseases and this self-imposed time limit speaks well for the less privileged sections of society," said Anjan Bose, secretary general NATHEALTH.

As many as 5000 new postgraduate seats in medicine were also announced in order to ensure availability of specialist doctors in smaller towns as well as the transformation of 150,000 health sub-centres into Health and Wellness Centre. “In addition, steps will be taken to roll out DNB courses in big District Hospitals; strengthen PG teaching in select ESI and Municipal Corporation Hospitals; and encourage reputed Private Hospitals to start DNB courses," Jaitley said in his budget speech.

“Expectations were much higher and though there has been an increase in the allocation of the budget (from Rs. 33,831.60 crore to Rs. 38,206.35 crore) there are issues like shortage of staff etc that we were hoping would be looked at," said Happy Pant, advocacy coordinator of Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability.

The budget also included the announcement for the formulation of new rules for regulating medical devices. These rules, according to Jaitley, will be internationally harmonized and will help attract investment into this sector.

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Published: 01 Feb 2017, 06:15 PM IST
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