Union Budget: 'Healthcare spend should be 2.5% of GDP'

Union Budget 2021 | Public spend on healthcare must be increased to 2.5% of GDP: Manipal Hospitals CEO

Dilip Jose, CEO of Manipal Hospitals. Credit: Manipal Hospitals

By Dilip Jose

The healthcare delivery system in India faced its severest test in the last year. Although urgent steps taken by governments at the centre and states and tireless efforts of healthcare workers delivered a strong response to the pandemic, the imperative to substantially scale up our healthcare infrastructure also became very stark. Hopefully, the budget lays down a roadmap to get the pubic spend in healthcare from the current 1.2% to at least 2.5% of GDP in the next 3 years, the bulk of which should go towards creation and modernisation of infrastructure.

Tertiary care as a solution to our healthcare needs is neither desirable nor affordable and that should reflect urgently in policy framing. An accelerated move to preventive and promotive healthcare requires fast-tracked investments in areas like safe drinking water, sanitation, school education and empowerment of women, and hope the budget would accord these priorities. Achievements in telecom, roads and power sectors demonstrate what we can do as a country when there is a concerted effort. Healthcare should get a similar focus over the next decade and the FY22 budget could be its strong beginning.

(The author is the MD & CEO, Manipal Hospitals)