The Union Budget 2018 presented at the Lok Sabha seems to a pro-poor budget with many reforms and initiatives being directed towards their welfare. The focus has been on universal health coverage and affordable healthcare, two aspects which must be pertinently addressed—and seem to have been addressed at length this year.
The three facets of the healthcare budget this year have been enhancing the quality of medical education, covering all poor households under the Jeevan Bima Yojana, and promotion of preventive healthcare.
Contributions have been invited from the private sector organizations to realize the concept of health and wellness centers.
Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “This budget is directed more towards the poorer sections of the society. It remains to be seen what benefit the Aam Janata will accrue. The Flagship ‘National health protection scheme’ launched to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (meaning 50 crore beneficiaries) by providing Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization is a good move. This will be the world’s largest government funded national health programme. The National health policy 2017 envisioned ‘health and wellness centers’ as foundation of India’s health. This budget then aims to set up 1.5 lakh wellness centers with the hope of bringing health care closer to the homes of the people. The fact that comprehensive health care including NCDs and maternal and health services fall under this gambit is encouraging. These centers will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic tests, a need of the hour.”
Apart from this, Rs 600 crore has been allocated to provide nutritional support to all TB patients @ Rs 500/month for the duration of their treatment. Cess in health and education has been increased from 3 percent to 4 percent and there is also a Mediclaim relief of Rs 50, 000 for senior citizens.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “The push for health coverage and insurance has been big. It is hoped that many more people will fall under the insured category this year onwards. At least one medical college for every 3 parliamentary constituencies and at least one government medical college in each state of the country is a positive step towards addressing the shortage of doctors in the country.”
Some other provisions are as follows.
To make villages ODF, the government is launching ‘Galvanizing organic bio agro resources dhan – Govardhan’ for the management and conversion of cattle dung and solid waste in farms to compost fertilizer and bio gas and bio CNG.
The Government will work to cover all poor households, households, including SC/ST households, under various bima yojanas in a mission mode. – Medical Buyer Bureau