by The Welthi Bureau | 02 FEB 2018
Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India explains how reproductive health has again missed the focus
A mere 11.5 per cent increase in budgetary allocations for health from Rs. 47,353 crore from previous year to Rs. 52,800 crores is disappointing and discouraging especially with the announcement of schemes that require large sums of money. The budgetary allocations are clearly mismatched with the stated policies goals despite the political commitment to increase investments in health (National Health Policy 2017), family planning, and achieve better health outcomes (SDG Goals). The continuing trend in lower budgetary allocations for health reinforce the fact that, while there is the intention and attempt to improve the health status in the country, the financial commitment continues to be missing for translating these goals into action.
The allocation for family welfare schemes under central sector schemes/projects, which is meant for procurement and distribution of contraceptives have increased only marginally by 2 per cent (Rs. 770 crore) over the budget (Rs. 755 crore) last year. This will be insufficient not only to meet the future demand but will also fall short of the current demand for contraceptives and for improving the much needed quality of services.
The Ayushman Bharat initiative and the National Health Protection Scheme announced by the Finance Minister is a welcome move for the country’s healthcare development as they intend to significantly reduce the cost of healthcare borne by the households on medicines, diagnostics and hospitalisation. While both these schemes are conceptualised with good intentions, the government has to match up with a strong regulatory framework and clear financial outlays and implementation plans.
While universal access to health care services remains a distant dream with the current allocation strategies of the government, resource prioritisation is the key to effectively utilise the available budgets for primary health care. To quote an example, prioritising critical elements of reproductive health care for instance can reduce large expenses incurred on incentives and compensation. Rather, these amounts can be used more productively to improve the quality of care and strengthen health service delivery.
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