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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 8, New Delhi, February 6, 2021

The Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) demands public health expenditure to be increased by three times in this budget

Saturday 6 February 2021

Indian doctors for peace and development (IDPD)

Date: 30.1.2021

Indian doctors for peace and development (IDPD) notes with concern growing inequities in healthcare to our population. In a statement Dr S S Soodan - President, Dr Arun Mitra - Senior Vice President and Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman have said that this has become more evident after the COVID-19 Pandemic and has exposed lack of preparedness of the government to deal with such situations. Considering the massive public health crisis that was on hand, the state should have proactively raised budgetary commitments to healthcare. Instead, India shut down almost all-routine public health services for months resulting into untold miseries, morbidities and mortality including vaccination of children. National Health Policy 2017 has committed to raise public health spending to 2.5% of the GDP, yet it is still hovering around 1.2% of GDP. As a result India has one of the most poorly maintained and resource-starved Public Health System in lower Middle Income Countries in the world. Whereas National Health policy says that State-Centre ratio of spending on healthcare should be 60:40, centre is spending only 13% at present according to Mr Ravi Duggal, Health Economist.

Limited resources available for healthcare are increasingly being redirected to subsidise the private sector through schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, other public private partnership schemes and by offering tax relief and other sops to private health sector. From across the country, the evidence is mounting that outsourcing and private provision of healthcare has significantly degraded India’s capacity to deal effectively with COVID-19 like pandemic. The private hospital lobby is prolific in India by now, using the pandemic as an opportunity to push its interests. Meanwhile, analysis shows healthcare privatisation has reduced countries’ long-term preparedness for dealing with pandemics, and actually costs government more than public healthcare. In order to honour its policy commitment the Central government should raise its current allocation on health by more than three times. This should be the new benchmark of Union budget on Health.

Dr Arun Mitra
Senior Vice President IDPD
139-E, Kitchlu Nagar,
Ludhiana - 141001

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