Healthcare turns out to be the winner in India’s 2018 Annual Budget. The World’s Largest Health Program announced for the first time in India is path-breaking considering the sheer size and the committed amount of coverage per family. The message is clear. India is gradually on the path to universal health coveragerubbing off previous criticisms of the government’s failure to address the country’s rising healthcare crisis.
Every year millions of Indians are pushed to extreme poverty due to staggering medical expenses. The recently released India’s Economic Survey 2018 also called for greater investments in healthcare, essential in creating a sustainable development goal.
India was ranked lowest in per capita spending in healthcare among the BRIC countries. Non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer and hypertension in India are rising at an alarming rate.
When economically underdeveloped nations are faring well in most healthcare indicators, India showed a dismal performance. But this year’s budgetary announcement in healthcare heralds a significant improvement in country’s healthcare indices in the coming years.
Offering 5 lakh rupees per year health coverage to 10 crore poor families including approx 50 crore beneficiaries under the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) indicates that the country’s health policy is ushering to a new era breaking away from the traditional mindset. Ayushmaan Bharat seems to enhance people’s longevity in true sense!
The proposal for setting up 1.5 lakh health and wellness centers and healthcare clinics across India within a budgetary allocation of 1200 crore rupees is a welcome announcement.The centers would provide essential drugs and diagnostic tests free of cost.
The country bears the highest burden of tuberculosis in the world.TB patients will get better nutritional support with an additional rupees 500 per month.Setting up of additional medical colleges and upgrading the existing ones would improve the doctor patient ratio allowing improved access to treatment and care for all.
The budgetary healthcare allocation may have drawn rounds of applaud but it sounds pretty ambitious too. The announcement of 5 lakh rupees reimbursement per annum per family from 1 lakh in the previous NHPS, a 17% jump, may not be workable. In the previous schemes, the government could enroll only 3.6 crore family against the target of 5.9 crores. Considering that scale, reaching 10 crore families is quite an ambitious proposal.
Public healthcare across the world is given prime importance in uplifting the health indices of the masses. There is no special mention in revamping public health which is in dismal condition. If universal healthcare is to be provided through private hospitals, it may not benefit the poor. Amidst this, we do look forward to the successful implementation of World’s largest Health Program overcoming all roadblocks.