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Government Spending On Healthcare Is Around One Per Cent Of The GDP

Nation needs to shift its focus from curative to preventive healthcare with a holistic approach

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government last year set a target of raising annual health spending to 2.5% of India’s GDP from 1.15% by 2025, now—one of the lowest proportions in the world.

As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is all set to present the Union Budget 2018 on February 1, the industry experts and consumers have pinned high hopes for an increase in budget allocation and expenditure for the health sector.

Private players in a common vein have said ahead of the upcoming Union Budget 2018-19 that the nation needs to shift its focus from curative to preventive healthcare with a holistic approach.

Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, Immediate Past President, Indian Medical Association and President, Heart Care Foundation of India shared his Pre-budget expectation for the wellness sector with BWBusinessWorld.

Dr Aggarwal feels that The union budget should address the concept of “One Health”, which recognizes that the health of people, animals and the environment are connected.

He said that “All kinds of budgets are linked with health. The concept of direct and indirect health needs to be connected. There is a need to change the concept of budgeting from allocation to reallocation. Reallocation of preventive care and integration of various areas into one department that focuses on wellness is the need of the hour. At present, ministries of health, agriculture and cooperation, rural development, environment and climate change, ICMR, ICAR, IARI, etc., are looking after their respective matters of human concern.”

Dr Aggarwal emphasised strongly that, “Although the one health programme is in place in India, it does not seem to be getting the right results due to different administrative and ministerial controls. It has often been seen that allocation of budgets varies in each ministry that is looking after the human, animal, agriculture, and environmental health programmes.”

 "Wellness indicates the absence of diseases, but despite the Swachch Bharat mission, which was meant to promote cleanliness with the aim of eliminating diseases,” Dr Aggarwal shared his disappointment at it’s failing.

“Although there is awareness generation, there is no proper regulation. Just as the Aadhaar was implemented with regulatory measures, there is a need to ensure that health and wellness are integrated with elements such as earth, water, rural livelihoods, women and child health, agriculture, animals, nutrition, drugs, and defence,” he expressed.

 Dr Aggarwal has been a physician, cardiologist, spiritual writer and motivational speaker for decades and in his experience, “Achieving the desired health outcomes is not just dependent on treating diseases alone. Addressing the social determinants of health is equally important, first to achieve the desired results and then to sustain them. A healthy person is more productive and contributes to the growth and development of society. Thus, a budget that focuses on overall health and wellness will directly also contribute to better productivity. A common budget needs to be allocated to various health programmes so that there is more inter-sectoral cooperation and sharing of knowledge takes place. With this, overlapping of programmes in these ministries will also go away to a large extent and result in more saving of financial outflow."

As the budget 2018 inches close, people have started building expectations on a slew of likely announcements and reforms, but what actually is in the store will be clear only when the finance minister takes the floor.

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