Funding for the National Health Mission has been reduced by 20 per cent; spending on public health will also be reduced by 8 per cent
After taking over as the prime minister last year, Narendra Modi identified health as the key focus area of his government. The Bharatiya Janata Party had promised universal health access during its election campaigns. During his poll speeches, Modi identified it as an important part of his famous “Gujarat model”. But in the first budget, the Modi government brought about one of the highest budget cuts in the health sector.
- Though the BJP’s election campaign promised to increase healthcare funding to 3 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), allocation has been reduced in the 2015-16 Budget.
- Funding for the National Health Mission has been reduced by 20 per cent and spending on public health will also be reduced by 8 per cent in future. Overall, cuts have resulted from slashing funding under Plan heads.
- The budget announced 54 per cent reduction in Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) allocation for infants, young children and pregnant women and a 30 per cent decline in allocations for the mid-day meal programme.
- The near-universal maternity benefit programme, guaranteeing an aid of Rs 6,000 to every pregnant woman in Food Security Act, received almost no budgetary allocation.
- The draft National Health Policy, 2015, that comes after a 13-year gap from the last comprehensive National Health Policy of 2002, shows a major discrepancy. The draft acknowledges that “a full achievement of the Millennium Development Goals” will require an expenditure of 4 to 5 per cent of GDP in the health sector, but proposes increasing it to only 2.5 per cent of the GDP. At present, 1.2 per cent of the GDP is spent on health.
- In the first year, the Narendra Modi government did not launch any new health programme. The much-hyped National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), a component of National Health Mission, did not take off.
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