By Dr. Vishal Beri,
On healthcare infrastructure:
This Union Budget 2021 is expected to be unique in a lot of ways, especially for healthcare. The suddenness with which the pandemic hit us was a challenge and it proved how the healthcare system is an important pillar to tackle such events. In this Budget 2021, there needs to be a strong focus and special attention towards strengthening the healthcare infrastructure of the country. This will ensure that infectious diseases are handled smoothly. This should be coupled with an increased allocation as a share of GDP. The private healthcare sector would greatly benefit from granting of infrastructure status which would, in turn, make the addition of capacity easier.
On the digital healthcare front, while a lot of initiatives are being undertaken, we need to heavily invest in medical education and technical education to generate the required skill force to handle the advanced technologies in healthcare.
On Digital Healthcare:
With the sudden growth of telemedicine and online consultations, we also need to focus on strengthening the required infrastructure and technological support to ensure access to healthcare for all. Also, while there have been initiatives on Telemedicine Guidelines prepared in partnership with NITI Aayog, there is also a need for increased allotment for National Digital Health Mission to strengthen telemedicine services. On the personal taxation front, an increase in the exemption limits for health insurance policies would be much appreciated considering how the need for larger covers has been felt on account of the pandemic.
Focus on Chronic disease management:
The Covid pandemic has proven that people with chronic ailments or poor lifestyle have adverse outcomes. Although India stands second globally in terms of the highest Covid cases and a lot of efforts were undertaken to contain the virus, we should not neglect chronic diseases. India is the Diabetes Capital of the world and also the Cardiac capital of the world. This Budget needs to address the non-communicable diseases through strategic allocation and sufficient funds.
(The author is the CEO of Hinduja Hospital)