Innovation in medicine and vaccine research a must now
During the Lok Sabha elections last year, Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had made several promises to boost the health services in the country. Now is the time when the government has to prove that it intends to fulfill those promises and they were not merely political stunts.
Common man’s expectations from this budget range from increased public health expenditure to strengthened human resources and facilities.
T Sundararaman, former executive director of National Health Systems Resource Centre, New Delhi, says that the government must significantly boost the amount it spends on health in order to match the money that has been allocated in the 12th Five Year Plan. In the plan, policy makers had decided to triple the allocation from what it was then.
Every year, the government allocates less than fifty per cent of what has been allocated in the plan. This is betrayal, he says.
According to him, the increased amount should be largely used to replenish the depleting human resource in the public health sector. “However, both human resource and other infrastructure need immediate attention,” he adds. Other than this, government should also prepare an innovation framework for medicine and medical devices as per the need of the country, he says.
Anant Phadke from SATHI, a Pune-based group that works for health issues says that there is a need of quantum jump in budget for public health expenditure. Last year, this was quite disappointing. If one considers inflation, there was no increase in health budget, he adds.
Medicines and vaccines need more investment
The increased amount should not go to insurance schemes and should rather be used to strengthen public health sector. Recently put in public domain, the National Health Policy (NHP) talked about strengthening public sector vaccine industry. The same is needed with medicines, he said, adding that it is not being talked about much.
Government must come forward to extend the Jan Aushadhi Scheme under which the government has planned to open a few shops in Delhi where generic medicine will be provided to the public, he adds.
Regarding medical devices, there are a few expectations like creating parity between imported devices and domestically manufactured devices by having a rationalised duty structure.
It is known that duty structure is heavily tilted towards imports, say experts who are strongly demanding that the government should come forward with a plan for preferential purchase for domestically manufactured goods in all public healthcare systems.
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