Union Budget 2023-24: Health sector looks for increased allocation for better infrastructure, services

Union Budget 2023-24 - Health sector expects enhanced allocation for infrastructure creation, service delivery

New Delhi, January 31, 2023: The Indian health sector has received attention in recent years due to the global pandemic, but much of the funds and efforts were focused on Covid-mitigation, leaving other areas such as primary healthcare delivery, service quality, infrastructure, and workforce training neglected. However, with India’s successful vaccination effort against Covid-19, the health sector has regained hope for the upcoming Union Budget 2023-24.

Expectations are for increased funding and emphasis on areas such as skilling, infrastructure development, and disease elimination, along with increased allocation for various segments of India’s large healthcare sector.

We bring you expectations from the upcoming Union Budget, from some leading voices in the healthcare sector. “We need greater budgetary allocation for healthcare across the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. More funds must be spent on the appointment of staff and on building infrastructure. The Ayushman Bharat Scheme’s ambit must be widened to include orange ration card holders and Indian pharma companies should be encouraged to manufacture new, better drugs,” said Dr. Nilima Arun Kshirsagar, former National Chair of Clinical Pharmacology, ICMR, New Delhi.

“The Union Budget should also incentivise the conduct of high-quality clinical research and clinical trials in India,” she added.

India still faces a heavy burden of vector-borne diseases, despite notable progress in recent years. The Union Budget 2023-24 is an opportunity for the government to emphasize its commitment to tackling these illnesses.

Pratik Kumar, Country Director, Malaria No More India, expects the government to increase allocation to fight Malaria. “India has set an ambitious goal of eliminating malaria from the country by 2030. While achievable, this road to elimination still stands steep – the country accounted for 79% of the malaria burden in the South-East Asia Region, the highest in the region, as highlighted by WHO’s World Malaria Report 2022. We now need a different and more focused approach as we near our elimination timelines. This goal cannot be achieved solely by the government and requires active participation and support from all sections of society. We hope that the Union Budget 2023-24 prioritizes allocating sufficient resources to Malaria, enabling our nation to achieve the momentous goal and bring us closer to a #MalariaMuktBharat!”

Despite their critical role in supporting India’s response to COVID-19, the non-profit sector is hoping for increased investment in social development initiatives in the upcoming Union Budget. From health to education and skill development, non-profit organizations have been working to ensure the government’s programs reach those in need across the country. With the goal of improving ease of living and overall outcomes, the sector is eagerly awaiting the budget presentation to see how their efforts will be supported.

“India needs to prioritize spending across a range of public welfare sectors such as health, education, and social development. Increased spending in these areas has proven to be a great contributor to enhanced standard of living and human development. Championing causes such as gender equality, livelihood opportunities for youth, climate action and just energy transition is a genuine imperative that deserves attention in the upcoming union budget,” said Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN).

India’s healthcare system consists of a vast network of primary healthcare facilities, clinics, and hospitals, and encompasses various elements such as medical devices, clinical trials, telemedicine, health insurance, and medical equipment. With a workforce of over 4.7 million, the healthcare sector is a significant contributor to India’s employment, providing medical services to over a billion people. In the 2022-23 Union Budget, INR 86,200 crore was allocated to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. According to the 2022 Economic Survey, public spending on healthcare in India was 2.1% of GDP in 2021-22, compared to 1.8% in 2020-21.