Indian Finance Minister Increases Allocation for Health by 15 Per Cent

by Gopalan on  February 29, 2008 at 5:31 PM India Special
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Presenting the budget for 2008-09, India's Finance Minister has increased the allocation for health by 15 percent, to Rs.165.34 billion, with stress on HIV/AIDS, polio and healthcare for the rural and urban poor.

These are the highlights on the health front:
Indian Finance Minister Increases Allocation for Health by 15 Per Cent
Indian Finance Minister Increases Allocation for Health by 15 Per Cent

National Rural Health Mission (NRHM): 462,000 Associated Social Health Activitists have been trained, 177,924 villages have sanitation committees functional and 323 district Hospitals have been taken up for upgradation. Allocation to NRHM has been increased to Rs. 12,050 crore.

NRHM is the flagship programme of the federal Health Ministry.

HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS has come down marginally. The National Aids Control Programme (NACO) provided Rs.993 crore. NACO is the apex body to prevent, curb and educate people about the disease.

The minister expressed satisfaction that the prevalence of HIV/AIDs in the country had come down to 0.36 percent from the earlier 0.9 percent.

India is home to 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients including over 70,000 children below the age of 14.

Chidambaram also exempted excise duty on all anti-AIDS drugs and cut customs duty from 10 percent to five percent on life saving drugs.

Polio: Drive to eradicate polio continues with revised strategy and focus on the high risk districts in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Rs. 1,042 crore allocated in 2008-09.

India recorded 864 cases in 2007 as against 676 cases the previous year.

Already this year, India has reported 82 cases, more than the number of cases reported in entire 2005.

Calling the education and health sectors 'the twin pillars on which rests the edifice of social sector reforms', the minister made two major interventions -- under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, every worker in the unorganised sector in the below poverty line (BPL) category and his family would get health cover of Rs.30,000.

For the elderly, a National Programme for the Elderly is to be started in 2008-09.

The budget provides for Rs.10 billion for the Aam Admi Bima Yojana that provides insurance cover to poor households. This will cover 10 million poor households in addition to the 10 million likely to be covered by Sep 30 this year.

The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana will be functional from April 1 2008. Initially it will start in states of Delhi and neighbouring Haryana.

Chidambaram also announced a five-year tax holiday for setting up hospitals in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, reports news agency IANS.

Budgetary support for child care centres too has been stepped up. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS): Allocation for ICDS enhanced from Rs.5,293 crore in 2007-08 to Rs.6,300 crore in 2008-09; Remuneration of Anganwadi workers being increased from Rs.1,000 per month to Rs.1,500 per month; remuneration of Anganwadi Helpers increased from Rs.500 per month to Rs.750 per month; over 18 lakh Anganwadi workers and helpers to benefit; 5,959 ICDS projects and 932,000 Anganwadi and mini-Anganwadi centres functional under ICDS at the end of December 2007.

Overall it is a concerted attempt to ensure better health for Indian citizens, especially the poorer sections, it has been claimed.

Source: Medindia

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