Health hurts

Budgetary support offers little hope of meeting targets

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Tuesday 28 February 2012

With just Rs. 37,330 crore allotted to health, the ministry of health and family welfare might find it difficult to keep its promises made in the 12th Five Year Plan. The 12th Plan is often called the health plan and the ministry has promised to deal with a variety of problems, including reducing infant mortality rate to 25, maternal mortality ratio to 100, total fertility rate to 2.1, and ensuring that the number of underweight children under three years of age is 23 per cent.

The ministry has also promised to restrict the number of anaemic women in the age group of 15-49 to 28 per cent, prevent and reduce burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases and injuries, and reduce out-of-pocket expenditure. The date for meeting the millennium development goal too looms around the corner. The National Rural Health Mission has been identified as being instrumental in providing healthcare to many who could never access public healthcare. But under this year’s budget, the National Health Mission (NHM), that combines the National Rural Health Mission and the proposed National Urban Health Mission, gets Rs 21,239 crore. Last year, NRHM was allotted Rs 20,822 crore. This means that the funds available would be diluted.

It is common sense that tying up loose ends takes money. The polio programme is an example of this. The moment the government had decided to reduce funds for the programme, polio was back. But this budget does not provide this flexibility. The increase in budget from last year just manages to cover the inflation rate and suggests that health care would be business as usual this year. Should we then prepare for a health disaster? Unfortunately, the budget for 2013-14 makes no special allocations for disasters of any kind either.


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