Medical experts demand increased expenditure, investment in innovation, Health News, ET HealthWorld
Talking about expected allocations in budget 2022, Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, Chairman, Manipal Hospitals said, “We expect increased allocation for healthcare in budget 2022 since we still have a lot of ground to cover in our expenditure on healthcare. There is a need to spend on strengthening our primary healthcare system which is the backbone of healthcare in India, public healthcare, preventive healthcare in addition to nutrition in children, and aggressive vaccination campaigns to include COVID-19 vaccination for all. We also need to strengthen the public healthcare system by upgrading the infrastructure and personnel at government hospitals.”
Further highlighted that there is a need to invest more in diagnostics labs, set up more medical colleges especially in underserved areas and invest in technology to bridge the rural-urban divide in healthcare and make healthcare available for all in the country by expanding our universal healthcare schemes.
Health experts highlighted that there is a need to increase healthcare spending in view of the current healthcare situation of the country. Expanding on this, Dr. Aashish Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka said, “We anticipate that the government of India will increase its healthcare spending in this budget. The last Budget announced a 137 percent increase in healthcare spending to address some of the gaps. Healthcare accounted for about 1.8 percent of GDP in 2021. We should aim to raise it to at least 2.5 percent of GDP this year. Despite the focus on the COVID-19 pandemic at the moment, it is critical to increase the proportion of spending on preventive healthcare and wellness. Ayushman Bharat is undeniably a positive step toward achieving the goal of universal healthcare; however, more funding is required to ensure its long-term success.”
Pointing out that India’s healthcare expenditure remains significantly lower than other nations, Sugandh Ahluwalia, Chief of Strategy, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre informed that there is a need for increased budget allocation for high-quality public hospitals. Further vouched for more public-private partnerships and additional investments to strengthen indigenous manufacturing of medical devices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and raw materials for drugs.
Commenting on the need to build-up on the healthcare policies, Ashok Patel, CEO and Founder, Max Ventilator, said “Apart from the need to raise the share of healthcare as a proportion of GDP to at least 2.5 percent in the upcoming budget, the government must also further build on its earlier policy incentives such as PLI schemes and dedicated medtech parks by increasing allocations. In fact, the government should ensure that the smaller medical device players also get included and can benefit from the special schemes and offers that it has extended with a view to catalyze domestic manufacturing and to achieve the larger goal of self-reliance.”
On other segments that need investment, he added, “Given the repeated occurrences of infectious diseases of epidemic scale in recent years, the government should also invest sufficiently into genetic and genomic research, epidemiology and vaccine research besides increasing allocation for broader healthcare R&D. Of course, the diagnostics and preventive health device segment must be given as much policy and financial support as possible. Further, the budget could also incentivize the consumables as well as medical device accessory segments which hold huge promise for the domestic sector. At the same time, adequate allocation must be made for training of personnel required for the deployment and usage of critical care equipment such as ventilators and other similar lifesaving devices.”
Focusing on healthcare innovations, Vikram Thaploo, CEO of Apollo Telehealth said, “The budget should be well allocated to the healthcare sector to initiate new innovations to be prepared for the fight with pandemics like covid-19 in the future. It is important especially in a country like India where digital health can truly provide care to areas with short supply of doctors. Increased allocation of budget for promotion of telemedicine, home-based healthcare and national digital health mission implementation will help in building a strong healthcare ecosystem in the country. Telemedicine has potential to improve access to healthcare in remote and rural areas. Home-based healthcare will reduce burden on limited healthcare facilities.Digital Health along with various innovations should be encouraged for India’s future growth in population health. The government should also support private players and startups in this segment to increase the current coverage of the locations including tier-2 and tier-3 cities to provide the advanced healthcare facilities in these areas.”
Health experts were of the view that focus on digital health and increased spending on research and development in the medical sector in addition to other suggestions, can help in bridging the accessibility and eliminate the rural-urban divide. As COVID cases surge across the world, the decisions for the healthcare sector in budget 2022 will have a major impact on the future outlook of India’s health sector.