Interim Budget 2019

Interim Budget 2019: Govt to scale up Ayushman Bharat to create a healthy India

Scaling up of Ayushman Bharat scheme to benefit poor and vulnerable people and inclusion of healthy India under ‘vision 2030’ are key takeaways of Union Budget 2019-20  in healthcare sector.

While presenting Interim Budget in the Parliament, the Union Finance Minister lauded the initiative stating that world’s largest healthcare programme has benefitted 10 lakh people after having been launched only last year. Poor and needy people have saved Rs 3,000 crore rupees by availing medical treatment under the scheme, the Minister said.

‘Healthy India with distress-free and comprehensive wellness system for all is the 9th dimension of our vision 2030,’ Goyal said while presenting last budget of the incumbent Government.

Other dimensions announced by the Finance Minister are physical & social Infra, digital India, clean & green India, rural industrialisation, clean rivers, oceans & coastline, space, self-sufficiency in food production, and minimum Government and maximum Governance.

Emphasizing the Central Government’s role to boost healthcare delivery system enabling people of all strata to avail quality and affordable healthcare facilities, the Union Finance Minister stated that past five years have seen a massive scale-up in the healthcare sector. Jan Aushadhi centres have been established across country providing affordable medicines to people. Further, he noted that cardiac stents and knee implants have become cheaper, benefitting almost lakhs of people.

The Finance Minister said that out of 21 AIIMS in the country, 14 have been commissioned under the Modi-led government.

“2/3rd of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences has come up under our rule, the 22nd one will soon come up in the state of Haryana,” he said.

Meanwhile, the industry people have welcomed the budget. According to NATHEALTH, the Interim Budget 2019 appears to be a comprehensive, wide ranging and balanced, with many positives for the health sector.

“NATHEALTH welcomes the scaling up plans for the Ayushman Bharat Mission and the government’s focus on universal health coverage that improves India’s march towards a Swasthya Bharat. However, we believe it has to be done collaboratively through value based scientific costing driving sustainable pricing supported by improved ecosystem efficiency gains,” said Siddhartha Bhattacharya, Secretary General, NATHEALTH.

Daljit Singh, President, NATHEALTH, said, “Creating a robust health delivery system for comprehensive wellness of the people would be game changer. India’s NCDs burden is rising alarmingly and it is estimated to cost $6 trillion by 2030. We need to declare war on NCDs and address the critical need for strengthening the Primary Care framework focused on prevention. The Vision 2030 announced would be a critical step to stem the tide now.”

Dr Aashish Chaudhry, MD, Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital says Interim Budget 2019 reaffirms the government’s commitment to improve healthcare systems in the country.

“The government has presented a positive Interim Budget for the sector. Creating distress-free health delivery systems with necessary infrastructure for comprehensive wellness of the people would be a game-changer. However, Comprehensive Wellness for a Healthy India needs bigger collaborations and all stakeholders including private providers need to participate proactively,” said Chaudhry.

“It is laudable that the Finance Minister has outlined the government’s vision of a healthy India with ‘distress-free and comprehensive wellness system’. Envisioning a healthy India and taking a step towards it will have a far-reaching positive effect in the years to come on the country’s healthcare delivery system,” Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, Lybrate.

“Another noteworthy policy that will enable the reach of healthcare to several of the most backward districts of India is the Aspirational Districts Programme. While we were looking forward to some conducive polices for healthcare and health tech startups alike, the announcement to establish a National Centre on Artificial Intelligence will boost the usage of AI in the field of healthcare and the step is a push for healthtech startups like Lybrate, which are already using AI to make healthcare accessible and affordable,” he further stated.

Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO, Portea Medical, said, “the Interim budget is in favor of two sections: the common man seeking access to quality and affordable healthcare; and the organizations providing this. Given the rising cost of healthcare, the reduction in prices of essential medicines, stents, and knee implants will come as a boon.”

“The budget is in favor of startups using technology to make breakthroughs and deliver healthcare innovatively. The National Centre for Artificial Intelligence will be an enabler in using technology to make diagnosis, treatment, and tertiary care more accessible and better,” Ganesh further stated.

Krishna Ulagaratchagan, Co-Founder & CEO, believes the government has launched three key initiatives which will together have a significant bearing on the health of the country.

Firstly, it is encouraging to see that the government is establishing a National Centre for Artificial Intelligence to direct efforts in the area of using technology. This will help India become a leader in innovative healthcare solutions and improve the efficacy of the treatments delivered across the country, Ulagaratchagan said.

Secondly, the government intends to build 1 lakh digital villages with an internet connection and digital devices in the next few years.

And third, the government is making healthcare more affordable and accessible by providing access to medical care for about 50 crore Indians, and perhaps more going forward.

Together, Ayushman Bharat, AI for healthcare and digital villages, will extend the reach and access of such digital health solutions to the parts of the country that are currently underserved by quality healthcare. We would love to see preventive healthcare also be factored in this grand vision for a healthier, digital India, Ulagaratchagan further stated.

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