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First Budget of Jaitley Largely to be Focused on Health Care

Universal health scheme in the pipeline; Expenditure on the sector likely to be hiked

The Union Budget is soon going to announce first of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’ social welfare schemes for the health sector — the National Health Assurance Mission. The programme will offer universal health care and provide comprehensive health insurance for the poor.

According to some sources, the Budget might as well propose the government’s mission-mode approach to achieve a ‘mosquito-free India’, working towards malnourishment and raising budgetary expense on the health sector. The NDA government is all dedicated to set up an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in each state.

The National Health Assurance Mission is believed be close to Prime Minister Modi’s heart. He understands how diseases erode the finances of poor households much more than those of affluent households. He has also asked the officials to focus on wellness rather than sickness and also urged them to create awareness among people on health issues. The programme aims to fulfill all these objectives.

The Budget, by focusing on health assurance mission, will try to do justice to Modi’s and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election promise of a complete healthcare system that collaborates indigenous health systems like Ayurveda and is wholly accessible, economical and effective.

The mission will take cues from Modi’s expertise as chief minister of Gujarat and the current and new health schemes will be brought under this programme. Some of the new steps devised will aim to ape the success of some of Gujarat’s health schemes like the Chiranjeevi Yojana and Mukhyamantri Amrutam Yojana. Chiranjeevi Yojana, implemented in 2006 in the state, aimed to lessen the infant mortality rate by educating women and telling them to deliver in hospitals. It was assisted by the ‘108’ ambulance service, which the new government wants to implement in whole of India. Mukhyamantri Amrutam Yojana was launched in 2012 to offer an insurance cover of up to Rs 2 lakh for critical illnesses to those below the poverty line.

As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi raised the budgetary spending on the health sector from 2.69 per cent of gross state domestic product in 2006-07 to 3.24 per cent by 2009-10. Modi had announced last year that the Gujarat government hiked its spending on the health sector from Rs 800 crore in 2001 to Rs 5,500 crore.

Other goals of the new government in the health sector are reworking on the 2002 healthcare policy and initiating a new health policy, alleviating the shortcomings of healthcare professionals, universalisation of emergency medical services ‘108’, and launching sanitation rankings to measure and rank cities and towns for hygiene.