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‘Primary healthcare needs Rs 5.38 lakh cr for makeover’

Primary healthcare

An amount of Rs 5.38 lakh crore will be needed in the next five years to improve primary healthcare services, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said, adding that investment in this segment could reduce the need for more costly and complex care by preventing illness and promoting general health.

There had been a lack of focus on health promotion and healthy lifestyle, causing high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the Ministry said in a presentation to 15th Finance Commission.

This Ministry informed that four major NCDs – cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases account for nearly 62 per cent of all mortality among men and 52 per cent among women. People have to cough up more money at tertiary care facilities due to lack of services at primary level.

Dr Shakti Gupta, Medical Superintendent of RP Centre at AIIMS, said strengthening primary health centres and district hospitals was key to improving the system.

“If the primary healthcare centres and district hospitals are strengthened in terms of infrastructure, equipments and trained manpower, no one will have to rush to medical colleges and big cities for common health issues,” Dr Gupta told IANS. “We spend more on tertiary care and less on primary healthcare,” he said.

There is a huge shortfall in the primary healthcare infrastructure and professionals.

Around Rs 1.88 lakh crore would be needed to address the shortage of healthcare professionals, and Rs 90,336 crore to bridge the infrastructure gap, according to the Health Ministry.

The Finance Commission, headed by N.K. Singh, has asked the Ministry to come up with revised proposals on the optimum use of funds in respect of sector-specific grants.

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