by Ranabir Bhattacharyya | 02 FEB 2018
Healthcare has been a core segment in every developing country and India is no exception to that. This time around, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has come up with Universal Health Coverage in General Budget. Under National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), the government will provide health insurance worth Rs 5 lakh to 10 crore poor families across India. NHPS is expected to benefit 50 crore people across India. No doubt, if implemented well, surely it can be termed as the largest government funded health insurance scheme. No doubt, NHPS will be a huge upgrade from Rashtriya Swasthya Yojana (RSY) which currently provides Rs 30,000 as health insurance. Moreover, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced that 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres or community healthcare clinics across India will be set up under Bharat Ayushman Programme. These clinics will be providing treatment for non-communicable diseases. Solely for this purpose, Rs 1,200 crore has been allotted in the budget. After so many years it is seen that government is closely looking at sustainable healthcare as government has allocated around Rs 600 crore for nutritional support to all tuberculosis patients.
Incidentally there are other announcements too in the general budget which indirectly have impact on public health. The announcement of 2 crore additional toilets as part of Swacch Bharat Mission is definitely going to help in maintaining social health and hygiene. 8 crore families who are going to benefit from the Ujjawala scheme is also a great boon as it would reduce health risk with other procedures, reducing pollution to a certain extent. As the general budget provides ample relief for senior citizens including exemptions on health insurance and assured return in fixed deposits, there will be positive impact on public health especially the senior citizens. The same can be said about women also. This budget also categorically looks concerned and takes measures to fight the ever-growing hazards of pollution from both crop burning, promotion of gas connection in houses using wood fire for cooking, among others. This is indeed a welcome step to avoid Delhi smog like situation, which is extremely detrimental to public health.
The decision to have 24 new medical colleges is indeed a great boost to India’s healthcare scenario as this will necessarily help with improved infrastructure with up gradation of existing colleges along with more doctors, nurses and other medical staffs. Overall the general budget provided much hope for India’s healthcare sector with sustainability and affordability as key prospects in the path ahead.
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