As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented General Budget on February 29, read ten points that may affect health care in the country.
1)Ministry of Health and Family Welfare allocation 32154 (14-15), 34957 (15-16), 39533 (16-17) in crores. Of the total 19.5 lakh crores, only 38000 odd crores is budgeted for health.
2)A new initiative has been announced to ensure that the BPL families are provided with a cooking gas connection, supported by a Government subsidy. This will significantly improve the health of women and those BPL families who suffer adversely from the ill-effects of Chulha cooking such as asthma, COPD and cancer.
3)Catastrophic health events are the single most important cause of unforeseen out-of-pocket expenditure, which pushes lakhs of households below the poverty line every year. Serious illness of family members cause severe stress on the financial circumstances of poor and economically weak families, shaking the foundation of their economic security. In order to help such families, the Government will launch a new health protection scheme which will provide health cover up to Rs. One lakh per family. For senior citizens aged 60 years and older belonging to this category, an additional top-up package up to Rs. 30,000 will be provided.
4)Making quality medicines available at affordable prices has been a key challenge. 3,000 Stores under the Prime Minister’s Jan Aushadhi Yojana will be opened during 2016-17.
5) About 2.2 lakh new patients of end stage renal disease (ESRD) get added in India every year resulting in additional demand for 3.4 crore dialysis sessions. With approximately 4,950 dialysis centers in India, largely in the private sector and concentrated in the major towns, the demand is only half met. Every dialysis session costs about Rs. 2,000, an annual expenditure of more than Rs. 3 lakh. Besides, most families have to undertake frequent trips, often over long distances, to access dialysis services, incurring heavy travel costs and loss of wages. To address this situation, government is starting a ‘National Dialysis Services Programme’. Funds will be made available through PPP mode under the National Health Mission, to provide dialysis services in all district hospitals. To reduce the cost, government will exempt certain parts of dialysis equipment from basic customs duty, excise/CVD (countervailing duty) and SAD (special additional duty).
6) Women and SC/ST health care providers: Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs are beginning to show great promise in starting and running successful business enterprises. The Prime Minister had given a call for promoting entrepreneurship among SC/STs to become job providers rather than job seekers. Union Cabinet has approved the “Stand Up India Scheme” to promote entrepreneurship among SC/ST and women. Rs. 500 crore has been provided for this purpose. The Scheme will facilitate at least two such projects per bank branch, one for each category of entrepreneur.
7) Under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), 500 Multi Skill Training Institutes will be set up across the country. 1,700 crore have been set aside for these initiatives. The Government will set up a National Board for Skill Development Certification in partnership with the industry and academia. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna will train one crore youth over the next three years. Health care educators and technicians comes under this scheme
8) Swachh Bharat Mission is India’s biggest drive to improve sanitation and cleanliness, especially in rural India. 9,000 crore has been provided for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. This will help reduce food- and water-borne diseases. Diarrhea alone causes over 3 lakh deaths in children 0-5 years
9) The Government is committed to achieve 100% village electrification by 1st May, 2018.
10) Excise duties on various tobacco products other than beedi increased by about 10 to 15% to discourage consumption of tobacco and tobacco products.