Budget 2022 : Health – UPSC GS3

  • There has been a 16% hike in healthcare sector allocation. However, the ₹83,000-crore outlay is almost equal to last year’s actual spend.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PMABHIM) has seen a substantial increase in budgetary allocation. A scheme to improve pandemic preparedness via research and development as well as strengthen “bio security” has received an increased allocation.
Digital health ecosystem:
  • Under Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out and it will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities.
Tele-mental health programme:
  • Recognizing the mental health problems accentuated by the pandemic, a ‘National Tele Mental Health Programme’ will be launched for better access to quality mental health counselling and care services. This will include a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence.
  • Given the shortage of mental health professionals, especially in rural areas, telemedicine would greatly enhance accessibility for patients requiring psychiatric help.
AYUSH mission:
  • Cost-effective Ayush services under the National Ayush Mission (NAM) received a major boost in the Budget. The increased allocation for NAM will help to upgrade hospitals and dispensaries, support the cultivation of medicinal plants and in other areas, including an increase in the export of value-added items of medicinal plants.
Analysis of Budget 2022-23 Allocation for Health Sector
  • Positives:
    • An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem to be rolled out.
    • ‘National Tele Mental Health Programme’ for quality mental health counselling and care services to be launched.
    • A network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence will be set up.
    • The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, which focuses on the expansion of tertiary care facilities, has been allocated a 35.1% increase.
    • Government should be appreciated for providing tax relief to differently-abled persons, whose parents or guardians have crossed the age of 60 years.
  • Negatives:
    • For the health programmes themselves, there has been less than anticipated increase.
    • The National Health Mission received a 7.4% increase over the money expended last year.
    • The allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) stays unchanged.
    • The Health Infrastructure Mission allocation seems to fall short of ambition.
    • The Department of Health Research sees an increase of only 3.9% given the continuing need for COVID-19 research and development of new vaccines.
    • The Digital Health Mission has an allocation of ₹200 crores. Given the potential and promised services under that mission, the allocation appears sub-optimal.
    • If there is a resurgence of COVID-19 due to a new threatening variant, a special package may be needed. At present, that does not appear to be highly probable.
    • Reduced allocation for COVID-19 vaccines paves the way for the private sector to be the principal source for providing additional vaccines to those who may seek it.
Way Forward 
  • There is a need to galvanize the Urban Health Mission which has moved slowly thus far.
  • A number of rural and urban Health and Wellness Centres needs to be established and activated with staff, equipment and supplies.
  • While some of it will come from the infrastructure mission, the requirement of trained human resources calls for higher investment.
  • There is also a need for health systems and implementation research to support the effective delivery of national health programmes.
  • Development and evaluation of appropriate and affordable health technologies too would be in keeping with the spirit of Atma Nirbhar.
  • Mental health services must extend even to those who are not digitally enabled. That requires strengthened primary care services everywhere.

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