Overall, the budget has been underwhelming for the healthcare sector. The healthcare industry has rallied and put all of its available resources to fight the pandemic and safeguard people’s health. For decades, the expenditure on healthcare has been low. As per the recent economic survey results, we have seen an increase in healthcare expenditure for 2020-2021, largely driven by vaccinations. We remain positive that the government and health ministry will continue to increase expenditures in the coming years, especially pertaining to investments in primary healthcare infrastructure.

Atmanirbhar Bharat also translates to the health of every citizen and therefore a renewed approach to preventive health and disease prevention is important. We welcome the FM’s announcement on the official rollout of the much-awaited Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, which is expected to provide universal access to healthcare facilities. The government’s initiative on tele-mental health is encouraging. The addition of 23 tele-mental health centers is the need of the hour, especially considering the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of people.

The pandemic has been a reminder of how much work needs to be done in healthcare; especially in terms of building the infrastructure as well as having a skilled workforce including doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, and laboratory technologists. The last budget saw a broader vision for health by merging nutrition, air pollution, sanitation, and access to clean water. It also spoke about adding health and wellness centers, block-level laboratories, more medical colleges, and more institutes like the National Institute of Virology. We not only need more expenditure on healthcare but also effective implementation, accountability, and reporting milestones at regular intervals. We did expect that Budget 2022 will amalgamate these initiatives under the health ministry; taking health from a curative approach and disease management to promoting good health and wellness.

Universal healthcare can only be achieved when all citizens have timely access to good quality healthcare. This can only happen when healthcare expenditure is considerably increased and when there is more collaboration between the government, the private institutions, and the academia to work together and build solutions.

Anand K, CEO, SRL Diagnostics

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