The health of the nation is
determined by the health of its people.
The 2014 Indian budget, which was tabled in Parliament on July 10, 2014
has allocated substantial budget to bring about some important improvements in
. This is in an attempt to provide health for
all, through providing free drug
service and free diagnostic service. Some of the key aspects are as below:
One way to improve health
care is to improve the existing infrastructure and make it accessible to
all. In this regard, the government has
proposed to set up 4 AIIMS-like super specialty hospitals to provide latest
health care to the population.
In addition, two National
Institutes of Ageing will be set up, one at Delhi and the second in
Twelve government medical
along with dental facilities will be set up which will
hopefully increase the number of doctors in the country, and thereby improve
the doctor: patient ratio.
Keeping in mind the diseases
that plague the rural population, the government also proposed to set up 15
Model Rural Health Research centers to take up research on rural health issues.
The central government will
also provide new drug testing laboratories in several states and strengthen the
infrastructure, the government has also proposed some changes at the individual
level. Items which have a deleterious effect on health like gutka, cigarettes
will be taxed additionally, and therefore will be
costlier. This hopefully will act as a
deterrent to people to use these substances.
Other options have also been
proposed to reduce health care expenses. Reimbursement of up to 15000 per year of
medical expenses by the employer will by tax-free. Conditional tax deduction is offered on medical
policies for self and family.
Antony Jacob, Chief Executive Officer, Apollo Munich Health Insurance commenting on the budget said, 'Today's Union Budget speech has certainly brought good news for the insurance sector by the government clearly stating its intent to raise the current FDI cap of 26% to 49% via the FIPB route.' He further added 'An enhanced flow of foreign capital and international expertise will result in accelerating overall development of the insurance industry through increased access to international insurance products, distribution channels and world-class business practices. It should have a positive impact in boosting overall growth of the Indian insurance sector and more so for the fast growing health insurance sector.'
It remains to be seen if all
these proposals will be implemented so that health care is reachable and
affordable to each and every Indian.
The proposal to move towards "Health for All", by creating a free drug and free diagnostic service for people who cannot afford medical costs is a distant dream and has been talked about by politicians too often. Health for all by 2020 has been a dream that perhaps is being revived by the new prime minister Mr.Modi. If the scheme is implemented this would be highly commendable and will be a feather in his cap. Guest Editor
- The Government intends to cover every household by total sanitation by the year 2019, the 150th year of the Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi through Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan. This step will have a significant public health impact. The budget has also stressed on a "protein revolution" in agriculture will also help improve the nutritional status of people. On the free access to drugs and diagnostics, though, it will depend on financial commitment by the government and a timeline for a national rollout.