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Budget 2020: Reactions to Sitharaman’s health provisions

Feb 02, 2020

The vision of eradicating TB under the program TB Harega Desh Jeetega by 2025 is a commendable step taken by the government in the budget, opine people.

New Delhi: Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures with the aim of boosting people's income and their purchasing power.

The Budget seems to be focused on three core pillars of building an aspirational India, better economic development and a caring society. OneWorld South Asia brings comprehensive post- budget 2018-19 reactions on health provisions from the Civil society and corporate world.

Sanjay Bhutani, Managing Director, Bausch and Lomb India.

With respect to the announcements made today for the healthcare sector, we welcome the 10% increase in the budget allocation which will further the goal of 2.5% GDP allocation to health by 2025.

The funds collected from taxation of medical devices will now be used towards the development of a robust health infrastructure in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. We believe this move would help set the foundation to provide quality healthcare services to citizens across the country, eventually fueling up the sector.

Dr Shankar Narang, COO, Paras Healthcare.

We welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s healthcare budget under the Aspirational India theme. The budget is focused on the holistic vision of healthcare, which proposes to provide Rs 69,000 crore that includes Rs 35600 crores for nutrition related programs for 2020-21, and the same will enable to reduce preterm death and malnutrition in society.

With the extension of Mission Indradhanush, aimed at 90% full immunization coverage of India and sustain the same by the year 2020, will help to prevent many diseases and reduce the unnecessary burden on healthcare spends. The Fit India will help reduce the burden of lifestyle diseases which has seen a rapid rise in the recent past.

The vision of eradicating TB under the program TB Harega Desh Jeetega by 2025 is a commendable step taken by the government in the budget. With the announcement of 20,000 empanelled hospitals in Ayushman Bharat and the need of more in Tier 2 and 3 cities will help to benefit the masses deprived of quality healthcare and simultaneously create employment opportunities in healthcare sector. PPP mode hospitals will be set up under viability gap funding to look at areas where there are no hospitals. This will be 112 aspirational districts where first priority will be given.

Kunal Jain, Founder & CEO, Analytics Vidhya

I welcome the Government’s initiative to open Data Center Parks across the country as the finance minister has rightly said that ‘Data is the New Oil’. This will lead to the digitisation of the rural areas while providing various employment opportunities to the people across the country. Also, I would appreciate the use of AI & ML by the government in Aayushman Bharat Scheme to improve the healthcare services and eradicate tuberculosis in India by 2025.”

Chander Shekhar Sibal, Senior Vice President, Fujifilm India

We congratulate the government on presenting the Union Budget 2020 for the common man and it’s encouraging to see that the government has taken the lead to deliver on its promise of excellence in healthcare. The government’s “TB Harega, Desh Jeetega" initiative to eradicate tuberculosis by 2025 is a significant step towards building a healthy Society. India being the highest recorder of TB cases in the world makes it imperative for us to understand the high risk of catching the disease.

The government’s vision aligns with our mission to raise consciousness and promote advanced diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis among patients. Additionally, the government’s impetus on boosting the domestic manufacturing of electronics and medical devices in the country will reinforce the commitment towards raising awareness for early detection in India.

Apart from this, the announcement to boost Artificial Intelligence is a great step to strengthen the usage of technology in the field of healthcare while intensifying the quality with accessibility and affordability. We believe that the government has put forward a progressive budget with a strong vision to take India’s social, economic and overall well-being to greater heights.

Sanjay Bhutani, Director, Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI)

A 5% cess on custom duties for import has been imposed on medical devices in the budget today which will increase the cost of the imported medical devices. Ultimately patients will bear this cost and affordability will decrease. This is against the basic ethos of PMJAY wherein government wants to provide affordable healthcare for all.

This is a retrograde measure and goes against the global companies which provide more than 80% of the critical care medical devices as well as the patient who gets exposed to the danger of smuggling of these low bulk and high value devices, without service & legal guarantees from neighbouring countries where the tariffs are already lower.

The domestic self-sufficiency argument of the government also needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We do hope the government has not looked at the classes of products on which it plans to impose this cess, monolithically. As many sub categories of these classes would not be manufactured in India at all”

Samrat Chowdhery, Leading Harm Reduction Advocate and Director, Council for Harm Reduced Alternatives.

Despite major focus on the wellness of citizens, the Union Budget fails to address the leading cause of deaths in India, i.e., tobacco. The allocation on setting up infrastructure for healthcare will continue to put a burden on the government in light of prevention measures being neglected. It was expected that the government will look towards behavior change and make provision for harm reduction interventions in tobacco control.

Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder & CEO, Leverage Edu

It’s great to see the Union Government’s focus on education. The FDI part was in waiting for a long time, glad to have it come through - it will really help us make a big leap! Online education programs, introduction of new courses that will push students into careers of tomorrow, and of course ‘the Indian SAT’ for promoting #StudyInIndia - all are in the right direction, and I am personally very excited about us at Leverage Edu helping execute some of these parts.

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