Instead of prioritizing the creation of electronic health records, the government should have focused more on actual public healthcare delivery system.
Indranil Mukhopadhyay, Associate Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Two waves of the Covid-19 pandemic have exposed the health insecurity that persists in India. Rebuilding a robust people-centric health system and improving health security could have been key pillars in the post-pandemic recovery strategy.
Defying popular expectation, allocations to Ministry of Health and AYUSH have been reduced in real terms in Budget 2022-23 by 7 per cent, compared with the Revised Estimate of 2021-22. As a percentage of GDP, the Centre’s allocation has declined from 0.38 per cent to 0.35 per cent between 2021-22 RE and 2022-23 BE. Thus, priority towards health in the total budget has also declined from 2.35 per cent to 2.26 per cent.
The National Health Mission is the key programme through which the Centre intervenes in improving primary and secondary care on maternal and child health; disease control and non-communicable diseases. Much of these services have suffered during the lockdown.
However, since 2018-19, NHM allocations have declined in real terms. This means, essential services like safe deliveries, vaccination for children, ongoing treatment of TB, etc., cannot be provided anymore with the current limited resources. NHM money also goes into remunerations for frontline health workers (ASHAs), mostly women. Cuts in NHM budget means reduced budget for paying these workers, who have been demanding minimum wages for a long time.
Published in: The Hindu Business Line
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