India rubbishes Lancet report, says spending on healthcare is at all-time high | India News

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NEW DELHI: After a Lancet report, the Indian government defends its healthcare spending, claiming it’s at a record high. Government sources highlight a decrease in out-of-pocket expenses as a percentage of total health expenditure. The report had earlier pointed out that India’s healthcare spending is one of the lowest among G20 nations.
“As per the National Health Policy, 2017, public investment in health is envisioned to reach 2.5% of GDP by 2025.Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has taken up with States to prioritize allocation to the health sector and enhance their health budgets by at least 10 per cent every year to reach the goal as envisaged,” one of the sources said.
The Department of Health and Family Welfare’s budget estimates have shown a significant increase, reaching Rs 86,175 crore in 2023-24 from Rs 36,948 crore in 2014-15, marking a rise of 133.23% over the period. According to a report by the medical journal Lancet, government spending on health has declined, hovering at a meager 1.2% of the gross domestic product. Out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare remain high, and key initiatives on primary health care and universal health coverage have faced challenges in reaching those most in need.
In response, government sources have highlighted ongoing efforts by the Health Ministry to boost allocations in the health budget. The 15th Finance Commission has allocated Rs 70,051 crore as grants for health through local governments, further supporting health initiatives. National Health Accounts estimates for 2019-20 reveal positive developments in the health sector, with total health expenditure increasing from Rs 4,83,259 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 6,55,822 crore in 2019-20.
The government’s health expenditure as a percentage of GDP has also seen an uptick, rising from 1.13% in 2014-15 to 1.35% in 2019-20, indicating a commitment to enhancing investments in healthcare. Notably, out-of-pocket expenses as a percentage of total health expenditure have decreased from 62.6% in 2014-15 to 47.1% in 2019-20, signaling some relief for individuals.
Addressing concerns raised by the Lancet report regarding the effectiveness of flagship health initiatives, government sources dismissed these claims. They highlighted the launch of mission mode projects like PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission, Ayushman Arogya Mandir, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, and the recent Ayushman Bhav campaign.
The Ayushman Bhav campaign aims to provide comprehensive healthcare services nationwide, extending coverage to every village and town. This initiative builds upon the success of the Ayushman Bharat program, symbolizing a significant shift in healthcare services. Other key initiatives include support to States/UTs under the National Health Mission, establishment of new AIIMS facilities, upgrades to government medical colleges under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna, and efforts to increase medical seats.
Additionally, the provision of free drugs and diagnostic facilities at primary health centers and an increase in government ambulances availability have been emphasized. Initiatives like Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, Janani Suraksha Yojana, Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Program, and Mobile Medical Units aim to enhance healthcare accessibility. The provision of affordable generic medicines under PMBJP, telemedicine services, and eSanjeevani for specialized medical consultations have also been highlighted.
The government’s concerted efforts to boost healthcare allocations and implement various initiatives are aimed at improving healthcare accessibility and affordability for all citizens.
(With inputs from agencies)

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