India’s healthcare sector, which has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, is in need of a major boost. Amidst the huge expectations on that front, we must say that the government has delivered positively though this year’s budget.
While unveiling the Atmanirbhar Health Yojana, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced that the Centre will allocate Rs 64,180 crore for the scheme over the next six years. This is a momentous achievement for preventive healthcare.
The government has also announced to set up wellness centres across rural and urban India, which is a welcome move.
Another very important requirement that the pandemic brought to the fore was the provision for greater investment for preparedness against any health emergency that may arise in the future, by strengthening diagnostic testing capacities and contact tracing mechanisms. Through this year’s budget, the government has lived up to this expectation as well, as it has announced to set up integrated public health laboratories in various districts and public health units in 11 states.
Overall, the allotment of Rs 2.35 lakh crore is a welcome move especially considering the adverse circumstances caused by the pandemic. Of this, Rs 35,000 crore has been earmarked for the Covid-19 vaccine, which is of course the need of the hour. Currently, the government’s primary focus has to shift towards fighting the pandemic by making the Covid-19 vaccine available to all and then it should focus on building the right healthcare infrastructure.
However, one can’t help but wish that it hadn’t taken a pandemic to create about the importance of the healthcare sector. Had it been realised much before, we would have had a stronger healthcare infrastructure, which would have helped us fight this virus even better.
On the whole, Budget 2021 has definitely brought some positive news for the health sector.
(The author is Director (Medical), Bhatia Hospital Mumbai. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Outlook Magazine.)
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