Budget 2023: Health outlay of 2.1% of GDP utterly disappointing, especially for healthcare professionals, says Dr Gilada

Budget 2023: Health outlay of 2.1% of GDP utterly disappointing, especially for healthcare professionals, says Dr Gilada

We hope there will be an intense debate on the health budget for FY24 and that it will be a push to the path to reach the desired 4% of GDP.

Dr Ishwar GiladaUpdated: Thursday, February 02, 2023, 07:51 AM IST
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Long-Covid: A parallel epidemic is derailing healthcare | Photo: Representative Image

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented the Union Budget for 2023-24 (Apr-Mar) in the Lok Sabha. Team FPJ spoke to industry experts from various fields. To gauge the reaction in the field of healthcare, we spoke with Dr Ishwar Gilada, who is Secretary General Organised Medicine Academic Guild (OMAG) and President, AIDS Society of India (ASI). Here's what he had to say-

“Health budgets have increased from 0.3% of the GDP in 1986 to 2.2% for FY22. Last year, it was 2.1 per cent and the same is maintained this year too, though there is a 2.7% increase over last year's amount allocated to health. In FY19, it was 1.4% and for FY21 it was 1.6%. There was a quantum jump to 2.2% of the GDP for FY22 and that was mainly due to expenses incurred on Covid management,” Dr Gilada said.

Unfortunate we have not learnt lesson from pandemic

It is unfortunate that we haven't learned lessons from the pandemic, especially during the April-June 2021 quarter, due to a shortage of medical preparedness and infrastructure. We must invest heavily in health if we really want to enjoy the fruits of India's continuous upward stride globally. We must give credence to the well-proven fact that "only a healthy nation can be a wealthy nation”.

We hope there will be an intense debate on the health budget for FY24 and that it will be a push to the path to reach the desired 4% of GDP.

Barring the setting up of 157 nursing colleges, there is nothing outstanding in the health sector. Health doesn’t figure in the top nine departments for budget allocation. The 157 new nursing colleges will be established at co-locations with the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014. It isn't a very big achievement as this should have been done since 2014 itself.

Target of 2047 for SCD elimination too far

The Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission is indeed important, though the target of 2047 is too far. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic condition and is widespread among the tribal population in India with about 1% of births among Scheduled Tribes having SCD.

Facilities in select ICMR labs will be made available for encouraging collaborative research and innovation. However, this has its origin as a PPP model in the development of Covaxin. If you see the budget allocation of the Department of Health Research (DHR) it is just ₹2,980 Crore, which is 3.3% of the total health budget. However, new programmes to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals saw a quantum jump from ₹100 crore in FY23 to ₹1,250 crore in FY24."

(As Told to Swapnil Mishra)

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