Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for 2022-23 on Tuesday, expressing sympathy for those who died in the country owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are in the midst of the Omicron wave, the speed of our vaccination campaign has helped greatly. I am confident that with ‘Sabka Prayaas’, we will continue with strong growth,” Nirmala Sitharaman said. Last year, Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will spend Rs 64,180 crore over the next six years to improve healthcare services.
- National Digital Health Ecosystem: “An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out. It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities,” Finance Minister Sitharaman said.
- National Tele Mental Health program: “The pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. To better the access to quality mental health counseling and care services, a National Tele Mental Health program will be launched. This will include a network of 23 tele mental health centres of excellence with Nimhans being the nodal centre and IIIT Bangalore providing technology support,” Sitharaman said.
- Progress in the healthcare sector: “95 per cent of 112 aspirational districts have made significant progress in health, infracture,” Sitharaman said.
In terms of healthcare budget, India ranks 179 out of 189 countries in prioritisation accorded to health in its government budgets. As health is a state subject in India, spending on healthcare by the states matters the most when examining government healthcare spendings, according to the Economic Survey 2020-21, which was presented in the Parliament on Friday by Nirmala Sitharaman ahead of Budget presentation. The survey also suggested that an increase in public spending from 1 per cent to 2.5 to 3 per cent of GDP can decrease OOP expenditures from 65 per cent to 30 per cent of overall healthcare spend.
From a financial perspective, India has one of the highest levels of OOP expenditure in the world, contributing directly to the high incidence of catastrophic expenditures and poverty. “In fact, at small levels of public spending — less than 3 per cent of GDP — even marginal increases in public spending generate substantial bang for the buck in reducing OOP expenditure,” the survey said.