Budget 2021 Expectations: How Covid pandemic can shape Modi govt’s Healthcare budget

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New Delhi | Updated: January 22, 2021 11:01 AM

Budget 2021 Expectations for Health: With the COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out and other structured and effective measures in place to combat the coronavirus, there is no doubt that 2021 is going to be a milestone year for the healthcare industry, says one of the experts.

Budget 2021 Expectations PredictionsWith PM Modi giving utmost importance to the Coronavirus pandemic and Covid vaccination, we can certainly hope that Budget 2021 will prioritize healthcare like never before. (Image- UNICEF India Facebook)

Budget 2021 will be presented on February 1 and people are expecting the Narendra Modi government to announce reformative measures. Since the Healthcare sector has been playing the most crucial role in tackling the prevalent Covid pandemic, experts are hoping for a milestone Union Budget 2021 from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. With PM Modi giving utmost importance to the Coronavirus pandemic and Covid vaccination, we can certainly hope that Budget 2021 will prioritize healthcare like never before.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the top of our consciousness the need for focused efforts and enlarged spending for ensuring better health outcomes for all, as well as for protecting the community collectively from similar epidemics. There is universal consensus about the need to enhance public healthcare spending as a proportion of our GDP into the zone of 2.5 per cent, and we also need to set up a more robust and effective architecture for the public and private sectors to collaborate creatively for improving health outcomes for all. The creation of the National Digital Health Mission is expected to go a long way towards improving individual and community health outcomes by deploying digital health technologies. The accelerated implementation of the Ayushman Bharat programme has also become a compelling need. There is widespread expectation of renewed focus and new energy in the public healthcare sector in the forthcoming Budget 2021,” Elias George, Partner and National Head – Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare, KPMG in India said.

“During covid-19 lockdown, Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana Rs 1000 cash assistance had been pronounced for underprivileged differently-abled, poor widows and poor citizens all over India. The initiative was welcomed by every citizen across India. But Goods and Services Tax (GST) is causing financial losses for different individuals as they do not get tax exemption on aids and appliances. We expect, Budget 2021 to address the disparity between urban and rural India towards the welfare of differently-abled and also help NGO’s from GST exemption. A majority of the Divyangs from rural areas remain distant from the government welfare schemes that are administered from government offices in cities. Empowerment of the differently-abled should be planned on priority with issues of free education, health facilities, and employment opportunities for all citizens. The physical, emotional, and economic welfare of all must remain in consideration,” said Prashant Agarwal, President, Narayan Seva Sansthan(NSS).

“With the COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out and other structured and effective measures in place to combat the coronavirus, there is no doubt that 2021 is going to be a milestone year for the healthcare industry. We hope that the government will present the Budget 2021 with a bigger focus on healthcare. The ongoing pandemic has put healthcare in the spotlight and exposed several gaps in the ecosystem. Hence, we need policies that can cover wide-ranging voids in infrastructure, facilities, and financial provisions in the upcoming Union Budget. Making budgetary provisions for our frontline workers, who have been pivotal in our fight against the pandemic, should be one of the key focus areas of the government. The year 2020 has also set the base for digital transformation and innovations in the healthcare system, and 2021 policies must work towards scaling them, increasing digital inclusion in the remotest corners of the country,” Shekhar Rawtani, Founder, Prescrip says.

“The pandemic also stretched thin our national healthcare infrastructure in the initial period when there was a rush of patients. It revealed an urgent need for higher budget allocation for the sector. In the short-term, we need budgetary allocation for vaccines at exempted or no cost. In the long-term, we need more investment in R&D, equipment, more hospitals, and in improving the overall infrastructure. The silver lining to this crisis was the much-needed focus it brought to the healthcare sector as the government pushed for affordable testing and treatment for everyone. The Budget 2021 should reflect these concerns for universal quality care and vaccination for everyone,” Mustafa Daginawala, Chief Finance Officer, Saifee Hospital, said.

“While the healthcare segment has been a key focus area and part of country’s development plan through various comprehensive initiatives including Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat, National Digital Health Mission and now ‘Mission Covid Suraksha, the long-term response to the virus needs a significant part of budget allocation. The Covid pandemic has reinstated the fact that, the government needs substantial investments in funding researches on infectious diseases and strengthening the capabilities of relevant institutions. Avian flu, SARS, MERS, Ebola, etc, are a clear example of the warning signals that the governments worldwide have ignored this segment for a long time, and now with bacterial infections becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, common infections can potentially become life-threatening in the future. To achieve this, it will be pivotal for government to join hands with private sector, while re-directing their focus on life science, healthcare and diagnostics. The healthcare policies need to take into account the entire value chain of healthcare – prevention of diseases, treatment and health insurance, to achieve the goal of universal health coverage,” Anand K, CEO, SRL Diagnostics said in his pre-Budget 2021 expectations.

“Take the opportunity of COVID-19 vaccine to establish long-lasting supply chain infrastructure: The government needs to ensure that the vaccination drive is not seen as a one-time exercise but a chance to develop infrastructure to serve the nation and its immunization targets in coming decades,” Himanshu Sikka, Lead – Health, Nutrition, and WASH, IPE Global said ahead of Budget 2021.

“The industry has bounced back quite well from the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown from early part of 2020. We do hope that the demand sustains in the near term. It would be great to have measures taken from the government that will help increasing local consumption and local demand. On the supply side, the government has taken a great step in the implementation of the production linked incentive and we would be happy to see more such measures which could boost domestic production of various products,” Shreevar Kheruka, MD & CEO of Borosil Ltd. said regarding Budget 2021 expectations.

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