Union Budget 2020 India: In order to make the government’s flagship scheme Ayushman Bharat to become successful, more hospitals are needed in smaller towns and rural areas, said Dr Shankar Narang, COO, Paras Healthcare.
Budget 2020-21: With Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman soon to announce the union budget, India’s health sector looks forward to better allocations for healthcare. Industry experts are of belief that increased spending in healthcare was one of the crucial areas that the government left unaddressed in last year’s budget. Despite pulling Ayushman Bharat in the government’s top agendas, there was no other major policy in the healthcare sector. In order to make the government’s flagship scheme Ayushman Bharat to become successful, more hospitals are needed in smaller towns and rural areas, said Dr Shankar Narang, COO, Paras Healthcare. “We expect the government to announce concrete measures and set a clear roadmap towards this goal. The government should announce major incentives that may include sops in the areas of capital investments by healthcare organizations like land and medical equipment,” he said.
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Not just adding more hospitals, the industry is also seeking help from the government to churn out more doctors and specialists by increasing MBBS and PG seats. “We hope the government will spell out funds and roadmap to upgrade at least 100 district hospitals into medical colleges over the next 5 years,” said Vikram Thaploo, CEO of Apollo TeleHealth Services. He further said that the accessibility of doctors in rural areas remains a concern, and the industry is yet to fully harness the power of technology and telemedicine to bridge this gap.
India currently imports around 80 per cent of all medical devices. As the imports became cheaper by 11 per cent, domestic manufacturing took the hit, said Nikhilesh Tiwari, Founder & CEO of a medical equipment supplier- ColMed. “The government needs to take urgent measures to boost local manufacturing if it wants India to become a manufacturing hub,” said Nikhilesh Tiwari. He also said that there should be some changes in regulations to cover most medical devices. According to him, preferential pricing will promote quality in public procurement, and ensure that the patients who access the public healthcare system get quality treatment.
Meanwhile, according to the World Bank data, India spends 1.4 per cent of GDP on health, which is below the world average of 6 per cent. With an increase in population as well as improved life expectancy, policies are expected to be re-evaluated. According to Pranav Anam, MD& Founder of a health tech startup- The Gene Box, a change is needed in the manner in which healthcare policies are devised and making the policymaking system more precise, targeted and hence, effective. “India can utilise the gene pooling projects like IndiGen which can give scientific information that is India-specific and help devise policies accordingly. Thus, there is a need for investments in this sector as well,” said Pranav Anam.