Budget 2023: No major announcements on health front; Allocations increase by 12 per cent | The Financial Express

Budget 2023: No major announcements on health front; Allocations increase by 12 per cent

Union Budget 2023: For the upcoming financial year, Rs 86,175 crore has been allocated to the department of health and family welfare while Rs 2,980 crore has been allocated to the department of health research.

Union Budget 2023, Nirmala Sitharaman, Healthcare Budget, Budget 2023, Healthcare news,
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announced the Union Budget 2023-24. (FE.com)

Union Budget 2023: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announced the Union Budget 2023-24. With a marginal increase, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been allocated Rs 89,155 crores in Union Budget FY24. There is rise of 12.6 per cent as compared to the revised Budget estimate for FY23.

In the last year’s budget, the Health Ministry received a 16 per cent hike. In a tweet on Wednesday, former Health Secretary Sujatha K Rao called it “the most boring budget for the health sector.”

On Wednesday, after the Budget announcement, Oxfam India issued a statement and said that “the Union Budget has missed yet another opportunity in addressing the growing inequality in the country.”

According to Oxfam India, the allocation for key social sector spending’s like health and education continued to remain abysmally low in the Union Budget.

“Oxfam India disappointedly notes that despite high inequality, the Union Budget has announced tax cuts for the people from the highest income slab. This year, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and AYUSH has been allotted INR 92,802.5 crores, which is an increase of 13.2 per cent from the last year’s Budget. Yet, the Union Government spending on health is now only a meagre 2.06 per cent of the total Union Budget which is less than half percent (0.35 per cent) of India’s GDP,” it stated on Wednesday.

The Union Government meanwhile has allocated an amount of INR 1,12,899 crore to the Ministry of Education. Though it is an increase of 13 per cent from FY 2022-23, this constitutes only 2.5 per cent of the total Union Budget. This makes the Union Government expenditure on education only 0.41 per cent of India’s GDP, it added.

“While the poor and marginalised in the country continue to suffer a health, education, cost of living and climate crisis, the Finance Minister’s Union Budget unfortunately offers no relief. Instead, the Budget provides further tax cuts and incentives to the rich in the country. Inadequate allocation in the health and education sector runs the risk of depriving the socio-economically marginalised populations from good-quality education and healthcare,” said Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India.

Behar also said that after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Finance Minister had a historic opportunity to reset our economy to address the obscene inequality being witnessed in the country.

“Sadly, this has not happened. We urge the Union Government to change the track and immediately enhance the budgetary allocation of the health sector to 2.5 per cent of GDP, as envisaged in the National Health Policy, to reinvigorate the public healthcare system. The Union Government must also enhance the budgetary allocation for education to the global benchmark of 6 per cent of GDP, as also committed in the National Education Policy,” he added.

For the upcoming financial year, Rs 86,175 crore has been allocated to the department of health and family welfare while Rs 2,980 crore has been allocated to the department of health research.

In the ongoing fiscal, the budget spent on the department of health and family welfare is Rs 76,370 crore while Rs 2,775 crore had been marked for the department of health research.

Considerable Increase in Centrally Sponsored Schemes

Among the centrally sponsored schemes, the two schemes that have recieved hike in the Budget are the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PMABHIM) and the National Digital Health Mission; a status quo has been maintained for most other schemes.

The PMABHIM scheme has been allocated Rs 645.68 crore in the upcoming financial year; the revised Budget estimate for the scheme this year was Rs 281.86 crore.

The 2023 Union Budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has also proposed Rs 341 crore for the National Digital Health Mission, more than doubling the FY23 spent, which stood at Rs 140 crore.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has also proposed Rs 341 crore for the National Digital Health Mission, more than doubling the FY23 spent, which stood at Rs 140 crore.

It is noteworthy that the government has not allocated any funds for COVID-19 vaccination. Additionally, the Centre’s flagship health insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana, under which nearly 50 crore Indians receive cashless hospitalization benefit of up to Rs 5 lakh, will be allocated Rs 7,200 crore in FY24, marginally higher than the current spend of Rs 6,412.

In her Budget speech, Sitharaman announced that research and development in the pharmaceutical sector will receive a government push. She further announced that 157 new nursing colleges will be set up, some Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) labs will become accessible for private researchers, and a project to eliminate sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder common among tribal people, will be launched by 2047.

Reactions from Industry Leaders of Healthcare Sector:

“We welcome the Union Budget 2023-24 announced by FM Nirmala Sitharaman and applaud the focus on research and innovation as these factors are essential in driving value-added growth. Fostering a robust research ecosystem will help in achieving universal health coverage by enabling accessibility, and availability of life-saving medicines. It will also improve India’s intellectual capital and contribute to accelerating our growth toward becoming a $10 trillion economy by 2035. As an organization, we have a long-standing commitment and have undertaken several initiatives to improve the lives of those affected by sickle cell disease and the announcement by FM to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047 is very encouraging. We look forward to establishing more significant partnerships with relevant government stakeholders towards providing a comprehensive SCD management ecosystem to the patients,” Amitabh Dube, Country President and Managing Director, Novartis India said.

“The emphasis of the budget on digitization, with increased focus towards modern tech would ensure speedier adoption of digital tools and enhanced research in AI. Investment towards nursing colleges is a progressive move as that is the need of the hour. Infact PPP would be encouraged to ensure the government can get adequate support from private players and we as a sector are able to come up with setting these nursing colleges sooner. With digital transformation play and focus on R&D in the budget, it will be encouraged if every tertiary and quaternary healthcare facility can have a R and D division focused on advancement in pharmaceuticals , biomedical equipments as well as medical consumable to further enhance healthcare output for patients in terms of quality , safety and cost. Private labs can work in partnership with ICMR to work towards this objective and work in unison for better healthcare productivity and efficiency. Mission to eliminate Sickle Cell Anaemia is a great initiative to have a healthier population is yet another step focusing on well-being,” said Dr. Tarang Gianchandani, CEO of Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital on the “Union Budget 2023.

“An inclusive Budget from the Finance Minister with a boost to critical areas such as education, agriculture, healthcare, environment, digital, start-ups, skilling and others. For pharma, announcements on a new programme to promote research and innovation through centres of excellence, collaboration with the ICMR laboratories, encouragement to investment in R&D point to much-anticipated support to innovation in pharma. Allocation of over 2% of GDP to health, dedicated multi-disciplinary courses for medical devices, the mission to eliminate sickle-cell anaemia and centres of excellence for artificial intelligence for cutting-edge solutions were other highlights. We welcome these announcements and look forward to studying the detailed proposals,” Satish Reddy, Chairman, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories said.

“This year’s budget has set the pathway for India to achieve universal health coverage. We welcome various initiatives announced by the honorable Finance Minister to address the long-standing gaps of the Indian healthcare ecosystem. On the healthcare front, the budget focuses on the opening of 157 new nursing colleges and using existing facilities in select ICMR labs for research by public & private medical facilities. The announcement of dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions to ensure the availability of skilled manpower for futuristic medical technologies and high-end manufacturing will play a pivotal role in strengthening the healthcare sector. We also welcome the Mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047 which will immensely benefit a large population. The Government’s greater emphasis on R&D, innovation and results-based financing towards more effective PPP will prove to be beneficial in creating the much-needed shift towards quality and higher value. In view of the G20 presidency, overall, the announcements provide a strong impetus to strengthen the Indian healthcare ecosystem,” Dr. Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, MD & CEO, Fortis Healthcare Limited said.

“We are really delighted with the budget presented by Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman which has given a good boost to the sectors related to healthcare, pharmaceuticals and medical devices segments. We are thankful to the Govt.of India for taking precautionary measures and a mission to eliminate Sickle-Cell Anaemia by 2047. The Hon’ble FM also announced that Govt. will organise screening for 7 crore people in 0-40 years age group in affected tribal areas. We are truly positive of these initiatives by the government which is on a mission to eradicate the disease. Thalassemia Sickle Cell Society (TSCS) with its expertise in providing free consultation, free blood transfusion facilities, bone marrow treatment. TSCS will be more than happy to collaborate with the government for any possible support to treat/eradicate this inherited blood disorder. With the economy expected to grow at 7% this year, the budget has adequately focused on the upskilling of the healthcare professionals in the country through opening of nursing schools and encouraging clinical research. Post the pandemic, we have witnessed a rise in the need for quality care, and the Union Budget of 2023 has slowly but surely paved the way for the same. With the need for accelerated adoption of new-age technologies like robotic-assisted surgery in the country, I am glad that emphasis is being laid on multidisciplinary courses for medical devices. This will ensure the availability of skilled manpower for enabling application of futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing, and research,” Chandrakant Agarwal, President – Thalassemia Sickle Cell Society (TSCS) said.

“Budget 2023-24 focused on enhancing India’s capabilities and resources through increased manpower, R&D, and PPP in healthcare sector. Setting up of 157 new Nursing colleges is welcome, in view of the severe shortage of nurses in the country. However the current state of existing Nursing colleges must .be evaluated for upgradation & better job opportunity for nurses to be identified to curb international migration. The idea of setting up a Center of Excellence in AI for health along with the strengthened impetus towards medical education will accelerate the development of new-age, technology-driven medical solutions for better disease management and encourage start-ups to come up with Innovative solutions in the Healthcare Delivery space. Creating awareness of prevention and early screening is not only essential in eliminating sickle cell anemia but would also be a great stepping stone for similar diseases , however its success will depend on effective implementation. The increased focus on encouraging medical education and PPP will aid the industry’s growth . The budgeted increase in healthcare expenditure of 15% does not seem to enough to tide over the current challenges of upgradation of infrastructure and providing accessibility and affordability for quality healthcare in the country. We are looking forward to clear indications of the steps to be implemented for healthcare infrastructure development and move closer towards universal health coverage with increased expenditure as a % to GDP. It would have been better if there were tax exemptions for healthcare, which is vital to reduce healthcare expenses & out of the pocket spending” commented Mr. Gautam Khanna, CEO P.D. Hinduja Hospital & Chairman FICCI Health Services,” Mandeep Singh Kumar, Vice-President and Country GM, Intuitive India said.

“The increased emphasis on AI research and development is unquestionably a step in the right direction. It will help create sustainable healthcare solutions. This will eventually benefit the public at large. As stated by the FM, leading industry players will collaborate with renowned educational institutions to establish three Artificial Intelligence (AI) Centers of Excellence, conduct interdisciplinary research, create cutting-edge applications, and find scalable solutions to problems in the fields of health, agriculture, and sustainable systems. There is also a focus on increasing skilled medical manpower, which is very much needed to address the issue of nurses in hospitals and healthcare institutions, especially in Tier 2/3/4 cities. Also, medical research, education, and innovation, which have been prioritised in budget 2023, will aid in overcoming barriers to healthcare in the public sector. Alongside the 157 medical colleges that have already been operating since 2014, 157 new nursing colleges will also be established. The industry will also be encouraged to make research investments as part of a new programme for pharmaceutical research that will be developed. Also, public and commercial medical facilities will make facilities at a few of the ICMR’s labs available for study. The budget also emphasises the importance of accelerating the development of new technology and solutions. Leading business players will collaborate to perform interdisciplinary research, create cutting-edge apps, and find scalable solutions to issues in the fields of sustainable cities, agriculture, and health. The efforts of the government is commendable, as 102 crore people received 220 crore COVID vaccinations. In addition, the government has set a goal of eradicating sickle-cell disease by 2047,” Dheeraj Jain, Founder & MD, Redcliffe Labs said.

“OPPI would like to congratulate the government on the 2023-24 Union Budget tabled by the Finance Minister. The budget has brought much optimism to the healthcare and pharma sector by putting the focus on research and innovation. With the announcement of a new program for research in the pharma industry being formulated, there is immense potential for the sector to remain competitive in providing quality healthcare to its people. Moreover, the impetus for public-private collaborations showcases the government’s emphasis on providing faster solutions to India’s health challenges. As OPPI, we are looking forward to putting in all our resources and aligning with the government to achieve the objective of healthcare for all,” OPPI DG, Vivek Sehgal said.

“We are extremely encouraged by the Government’s commitment to the healthcare sector, particularly with the proposal of a new program for pharmaceutical research and development. As a leading player in the industry, we eagerly anticipate the implementation of the budget and hope that it will bring about significant improvements in terms of infrastructure, medical devices, and services available to the public. The healthcare sector, one of the largest in India, has made a call for increased allocation of funds to reach 2.5% of GDP, along with tax benefits with the focus on reducing import duties on reagents and equipment to boost the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The pharmaceutical industry eagerly awaits a comprehensive R&D policy and substantial long-term investments to fuel growth and innovation in the sector. The specialized Medtech workforce will also play a pivotal role in ensuring the future success of the healthcare sector. Additionally, we are also eager to be a part of the Government’s Mission to eliminate Sickle Cell Anaemia and aid the government by doing our bit. We are optimistic that this budget will have a positive impact on the healthcare landscape in India and are eagerly looking forward to its implementation.” Ameera Shah, Promoter and Managing Director, Metropolis Healthcare Limited said.

“Healthium Medtech welcomes the 2023-24 Union Budget, as a progressive one for addressing India’s medical skill gap. The budget rightly calls out the need for dedicated medical training to ensure a skilled work force for resilient and futuristic medical technologies. The low doctor-to-patient ratio in the country demands focus on key areas, centred around upskilling caregivers, standardizing medical procedures and access to hands on training with high quality medical devices. The call to action for leading industry players to collaborate in interdisciplinary research will result in the development of cutting-edge applications and scalable solutions. Medical faculty upskilling to adhere to the evolving market and industry changes remains pertinent. The allotment of 157 new nursing colleges will serve as a vantage point for industry. A symbiotic relationship between surgeons, nurses, academia and medtech firms can be a starting point for quick adoption of new technologies like 5G and AI in healthcare. The availability of research laboratories to public and private sectors from Indian Council for Medical Research will foster innovation and R&D. The National Data Governance Policy will certainly provide a new lease of life for academia and start-ups to build acumen and capability in the fields of Innovation and Research. The new program to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals as Centres of Excellence (CoEs) will influence the industry sentiment and encourage investments for R&D. As we progress into ‘Amrit Kaal’, healthcare as an industry needs to come together and upskill professionals for the future, to meet the desired patient safety standards,” Anish Bafna, CEO & MD, Healthium Medtech said.

“The Indian pharmaceutical industry is a knowledge-driven sector with R&D being core to the growth. The Union Budget 2023 aims to provide stimulus towards innovation with the announcement of the promotion of research and innovation programme in pharmaceuticals through Centres of Excellence. In FY23, the healthcare expenditure on GDP has gone up to 2.1% from 1.4% in FY19. The Government has announced further strengthening healthcare infrastructure with a focus on increasing Nursing Colleges, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Skilling and Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission. The positive thrust on research and innovation is a welcome move to take India to the next level. The emphasis on healthcare is a significant step for India’s overall development given its demographic profile,” Sudarshan Jain, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance said.

“It is encouraging to see the importance that the healthcare sector has got in this year’s budget. Skilling of healthcare nurses and allied workers has been a long-standing gap, hindering healthcare delivery expansion, and the Union Govt. has taken a step in the right direction to address this. A significant increase in nursing and medical colleges, strong emphasis to promote innovation and R&D, PPP in healthcare and Medtech specialized workforce will lay a stronger roadmap for the future. The initiatives announced to strengthen the digital healthcare infrastructure will prove to be beneficial for the healthcare sector in the years to come. The mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047, income tax rebates and disposable income to be channeled to essential items – healthcare being one, are laudable efforts undertaken by the government. However, the long-standing requirements of the sector to increase healthcare spending as GDP percent to 2.5 percent, custom duty reduction to balance demand with supply and the nascent healthcare manufacturing base in equipment scheme, streamlining embedded indirect taxes like GST in healthcare making a smooth flow of credit difficult across value chain and low-cost financing schemes to strengthen healthcare infrastructure, primary care and improved working capital has not been addressed. In the last couple of years, a big positive is the partnership spirit with the private sector in healthcare and coherent initiatives undertaken to take these goals towards reality for a healthier prosperous India. NATHEALTH looks at working closely with Governments at all levels to take this aspirational healthcare agenda forward towards Arogya Bharat and beyond,” Shravan Subramanyam, President, NATHEALTH said.

“The 2023-24 Union budget has taken some crucial initiatives to increase the CAPEX outlay by 10 Lakh crore, which makes it 3.3% of the country’s GDP. We hope that the benefit is also received by the healthcare sector which is in need of a big uplift in its infrastructure, especially in Tier 2 & 3 cities. It is also reassuring that the government is working on reducing the current gaps in availability of skilled healthcare workers. The FM’s announcement on dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices would ensure availability of skilled manpower who can engage fluently with rapidly innovating medical technologies. To supplement this move, we also hope that research institutes and training centres will continue to get access to latest medical technology, unhampered by restrictions in Public procurement norms,” Pavan Choudary, Chairman, MTaI, said.

“It is very encouraging to hear that the budget has focused on two most important pillars, first, reaching the last mile that will ensure the accessibility of essential healthcare services beyond metro cities. This will take India closer to achieving Universal Health coverage by 2030. A much-needed attention is given to infra and investment, which will open new doors for extending the healthcare infrastructure in both urban and rural areas of the country. Another most appreciated initiative from the budget came out to be the announcement of the establishment of 157 new nursing colleges in core locations. This will emphasize skilling and upskilling of the healthcare professionals so that India is well prepared for any future pandemics. In view of the regained focus on tourism in the post-pandemic era, Finance Minister, Niramala Sitharaman also addressed India’s potential to attract domestic as well as foreign tourists. The healthcare industry in India can surely explore collaborative partnerships with tourism industry players to boost medical tourism as we are already recognized in the world as one of the most affordable destinations for medical treatment solutions. India ranks third in terms of producing medicines by volume and there is a great potential to motivate and encourage moving from ‘Make in India’ to ‘Made in India’,” Dr Raajiv Singhal, Founding Member, Managing Director & Group CEO, Marengo Asia Hospitals, said.

“The announcements on healthcare by the honorable finance minister clearly highlight the government’s intention to promote quality healthcare. The government’s Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission is a step in the right direction – as it focuses not only on screening anaemia but also on promoting community awareness. It is also commendable that 157 new nursing colleges will be established, thereby curbing the shortfall of trained nursing professionals in the country. I believe that these steps will play an instrumental role in benefitting society at large when it comes to healthcare, which forms a key pillar of growth in the Indian economy,” Piyush Jain, Co-Founder, and CEO of ImpactGuru.com said.

“A new program to promote pharmaceutical research & development (R&D) will help spur investment in innovations that can address areas of high disease burden and unmet health needs in India. This is a long-awaited move, and we hope such a program will provide sustained incentives for investment so that the Indian pharmaceutical industry becomes a global hub for both discovery and development work. Another critical requirement in India’s journey to provide healthcare for all has been to augment health system resources and medical personnel. The move to introduce 157 new nursing colleges in co-location with existing medical colleges will help relieve pressures on doctors and in the long term, increase health system capacity. This will facilitate greater and faster access to primary and preventive healthcare,” Manoj Saxena, Managing Director, Bayer Zydus Pharma said.

“The Union Budget 2023-24 is prepared to boost inclusive development with a balanced approach towards all the key sectors, including infrastructure and healthcare. The Finance Minister has envisioned a robust healthcare system to address the current and future demands by allocating Rs 89,155 crores to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, up by Rs 2,954.35 crores. Apart from the pre-approved 157 medical colleges, the establishment of 157 additional nursing institutions will further improve the healthcare services in India. Additionally, the government intends to start a new pharmaceutical research and development programme. The programme will spur innovative change in the pharmaceutical sector. Also, the proposed multidisciplinary course for training on medical devices will reduce the skill gap in diagnostics and pathology, the strongest pillar of modern treatments. It is expected that this will enable skilled personnel to be developed to operate, research, and manufacture the future’s most cutting-edge medical technologies. Moreover, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced the launch of a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047. Based on these initiatives, this year’s budget seems rightly balanced and pragmatic,” Dipanngshu Sannyal, Chief Business Officer, Oncquest Laboratories Ltd. said.

“The stand-out in the Union Budget 2023-24 is the pro-digitisation approach across the board. It is a testament to the country’s commitment towards promoting digitisation, bolstered by the budget’s vision of ‘Make AI in India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’. The impact of this approach through skilling initiatives and innovation programmes is a significant boost, especially in the healthcare sector. AI is the future and encouraging research in the field, through COEs will foster innovation across sectors. Efforts through the 5G services labs in engineering colleges will also aid innovation in the country. This year’s budget has a lot of focus on skilling, education and innovation which is a step in the right direction to propel growth of the economy,” Siddhartha Nihalani, Co-founder, Practo said.

“The latest initiatives to promote investments in R&D and healthcare infrastructure, as stated by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the 2023–24 Union Budget, are a step in the right direction. Launching industry-specific new age courses as part of the redesigned Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0 is a strong start towards supporting a sustainable life science ecosystem in terms of skill development. The suggested emphasis on interdisciplinary courses in cutting-edge research, high-end manufacturing, and medical technologies is a step in the right way toward empowering the workforce with the most up-to-date skills required for the pharma and biopharma sectors. Innovations will be sparked by the proposal that some ICMR Labs would be open for collaborative research between public and private enterprises. We welcome these measures and look forward to their successful implementation,” Dhananjay Singh, Head – Science and Lab Solutions, Merck Life Science said.

“Technology-focused Union Budget 2023 comes at a perfect time as India accelerates the pace of the National Digital Health Mission. The budget takes inspiration from envisioning India at 100. A renewed focus on technological advancements— AI-based technology to help remotely monitor infected patients in hospitals, the promise of 100 5G labs and opening new doors for ‘Make AI in India – Make AI for India’ will underline the value of precision care. The budget addresses some critical gaps that have hindered the pace of growth in healthcare sector with a promise to strengthen the availability of skilled nurses in modern technology with 157 new nursing colleges being co-located with 157 new medical colleges, R&D by building facilities and collaboration with ICMR Labs, and encourage investments in start-ups, research & innovation. Given that the budget spend on healthcare is expected to be 2.1% of GDP in this fiscal, we are hopeful that the healthcare expenditure will reach the targeted 2.5% of the GDP by 2025, as envisaged in the National Health Policy, 2017. In addition, we have seen the potential of PLI in steering the ‘Make in India’ journey. It’s time to address the manufacturing and distorted duty structure on import of medical devices, especially as we look at the expansion of PLI. The government should consider expanding the PLI scheme for local manufacturing of MedTech Devices to supply infrastructure and technology-linked incentive schemes to boost R&D. The road ahead will need stronger public-private partnerships and sharper penetration of digital to take healthcare to the farthest reaches of the country. We look forward to a promising year ahead driven by the ‘Make in India’ dream,” Dr. Shravan Subramanyam, Managing Director, Wipro GE HealthCare said.

“The announcement of a new program for research and innovation through centres of excellence is a step in the right direction. Having the impetus and encouragement from the government to invest in R&D will strengthen the industry’s commitment towards innovation. It will be instrumental in providing opportunities to the Indian pharma industry in executing R&D projects and building the market for innovator drugs,” Glenn Saldanha, Chairman and Managing Director, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd said.

“Caring for the wellbeing of citizens is integral to nation building, India stands tall for putting people first, and this Union Budget, the first in the Amrit Kaal, resonates with this ethos. India’s economic growth is amongst the highest in the world and a defining edge is the youthful demography. Therefore, the impetus on skilling is noteworthy. Also, it is heartening that 157 new nursing colleges will be established as it will contribute to improving the nurse-patient ratio, a step in the right direction towards Universal Health Coverage. It is also a right step towards India building a global workforce, to serve the world. Our nation’s digital infrastructure helped us ably manage the biggest crisis of the era – the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the establishment of centres of excellence for Artificial Intelligence will work to add much greater impetus to India’s digitization focus. Likewise, the 100 labs that will be setup for developing apps using 5G services across sectors including healthcare, will be beneficial in accelerating access to care, for all our citizens. Similarly, India’s leadership in decarbonisation and its resolute determination towards it net zero commitment, will be a model for the world to emulate. A key determinant of good health emanates from the food we consume. Hence in that direction, the Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Programme to improve the availability of disease-free, quality planting material for high-value horticultural crops, and the emphasis on millets will work to enhance overall quality standards and also contribute to lowering the lifestyle diseases burden. Nevertheless, it is vital that India remains watchful of the growing prevalence of non-communicable disease (NCDs). A pro-health focus holds the key to thwarting a massive impending societal and economic crisis. Therefore, the entire Apollo Hospitals group is committed to tackling the menace of NCDs by working with the Government in encouraging a culture of preventive healthcare and building a healthier and happier India. At large, this budget reflects the fact that nurturing health holds the keys to good health, happiness and wealth,” Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Founder Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said.

“As one of the largest biopharma research organisations in India, we welcome the initiative outlined in the Union Budget 2023-24 to establish a new program for research and innovation in pharmaceuticals. The decision by the government to also allow utilisation of select ICMR labs, to encourage collaborative research with the private sector R&D teams, will help bridge infrastructure gaps in the research eco-system and help create a shared and collaborative platform for research. These initiatives will help strengthen India’s position as a research and development hub for the global pharma industry,” Sibaji Biswas, CFO, Syngene International said.

“The Budget for 2023-24 has a positive and clear focus on connectivity, digitalization, building Artificial Intelligence, innovation and capital investment in infrastructure which are all very conducive for the business ecosystem across sectors. For the Pharma industry, these measures will help drive new go-to-market models that are patient centric and focused on access and affordability of treatments and medicines. There is a growing need for pharma companies to provide innovative solutions that can address the newer challenges that healthcare providers and patients are facing. Introducing new programs through various centers of excellence (CoEs) to promote research and innovation is crucial to bring quality treatments/medicines to patients. Investment in upskilling manpower for futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing and research is equally important to provide patient centric outcomes. Encouraged by this right policy push, Pfizer will continue to invest in innovation and science and leverage partnerships to bring quality medicines to address the patient needs in India,” Milind Patil, Executive Director-Finance and CFO, Pfizer India said.

“It is a progressive budget with a focus on infrastructure development, which should in turn spur job creation. The steps to encourage environment-friendly consumption and businesses are very welcome too. The budget is also mindful of the expectations of the youth and the middle class,” Dilip Jose , MD & CEO , Manipal Health Enterprises Pvt Ltd. said.

“The measures proposed by the Government of India in terms of the focus on healthcare technology, research and development and skilling will help boost the healthcare infrastructure and ensure last mile delivery. The dedicated efforts and investments towards medical technology and research will play a significant role in ensuring quality healthcare for all,” Vipul Jain, Chief Business Officer, CK Birla Hospital (R) said.

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First published on: 02-02-2023 at 18:25 IST