Union Budget of India for the Financial Year 2009-10 was presented
today in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Pranab
health budget has escalated from Rs.4,000 Crores to Rs.21,113.33
Crores ($4.35 billion) with the Finance Minister laying special
emphasis on rural healthcare
and health for all.
The budget allocation for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)
increased by Rs.2,057 Crores.
The NRHM was launched in 2005 by
the UPA government with the aim of providing quality healthcare for
people living in remote areas.
government is setting up six All India Institute of Medical Sciences
(AIIMS)- like institutions
across the country and hopes to upgrade thirteen of the existing
medical colleges. Rs.1,447.92 Crores has been earmarked for this
project. The project also hopes to correct the regional imbalance in
the healthcare services by setting up AIIMS prototypes across smaller
towns like Patna (Bihar), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Bhopal (Madhya
Pradesh), Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Jodhpur (Rajasthan) and Rishikesh
recent budget has also set aside Rs.10 Crores for the National
Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness (NPPCD). This
program aims to prevent avoidable hearing loss
and make possible the early identification, diagnosis and treatment
of ear-associated problems that cause deafness.
budget also allocates Rs.100 Crores for starting medical,
non-medical and nursing courses in institutions under the purview of
the health ministry with a view to reserve 27 percent for the Other
Backward Classes (OBC).
department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and
Homoeopathy (AYUSH) under
the health ministry has been allocated Rs.734 Crores with the aim of
developing and promoting the Indian systems of medicines.
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana
(RSBY), the health insurance plan that was launched in 2008 now sees
a 40 percent increase (Rs.350 Crores) in its budget allocations.
"Government proposes to bring all BPL families under this scheme"
Reacting to the Budget proposals, well
-known heart surgeon K K Aggarwal said that the budget had
little to offer the health sector.
'The budget has
increased allocation for Defence by 34 per cent to Rs 1,41,703
Crores, while the allocation for health is quite meager. For example,
the budget increases allocation under the Rural Health Mission by
just Rs 257 Crores,' Dr Aggarwal remarked.
the health sector has now been exempted from
service tax, transport has been assigned
service tax. This automatically includes the ambulances which come
under the purview of transport.
'This year, they have
imposed a tax on ambulances.
Next year, it could be the health professionals,' Dr Aggarwal
disappointing feature was that no novel
health insurance scheme has been announced in
'We were expecting the Government to announce
new hospitals and dispensaries besides funding for buying new and
technologically advanced medical equipment. But, nothing has been
announced on this in the Budget'. the heart specialist complains.
The Union budget has, by and large, been welcomed
by the pharma industry. While the industry is happy with
continuation of the excise duty at 4 percent - a
move which has been welcomed. This means that the consumers will be
able to get the medicines at the same cost. Some of the other
deduction of 150 per cent on expenditure incurred on in-house R&D
in manufacturing businesses
• Customs duty reduced from 10 to 5 percent on
life saving drugs
• Countervailing duty on the influenza vaccine
and nine specified life saving drugs including those used for
treating breast cancer, hepatitis-B, rheumatic arthritis
• Total exemption of excise duty for these drugs.
Some pharma giants
have described the budget as 'growth-oriented straight forward
practical solution to industrial growth'. But the industry seems
to be anticipating more .
Dr. REEJA THARU/M