Says Govt must not include the allocations of other departments in the health budget
Despite grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic for over a year, allocations towards health-related programmes in the Budget have been “misrepresented”, according to the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement, India).
According to the Finance Minister, allocations for health and well-being have been increased from ₹94,452 crore to ₹2,23,846 crore, the note said. But this included allocations for Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Ministry of Jal Shakti; Allocations for POSHAN Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission) under Ministry of Women and Child Development; Grants to Drinking Water and Sanitation, and health by the Fifteenth Finance Commission, and the allocation for Covid-19 vaccination.
Allocation for pandemic
“When the Finance Minister adds up all these and calls it an increase in allocations for health, it is in a sense misleading the general public. The grants given by the Finance Commission are never included in the Annual Budget. Similarly, the allocation for Covid-19 pandemic is a one-time allocation and cannot be included in the Budget,” the note said.
The Union Health Ministry’s total Budget (including Ministry of AYUSH) allocation has increased from ₹69,234 crore (2020-21 BE) to ₹76,902 crore (2021-22 BE), that is an increase of ₹7,668 crore only, the note pointed out.
The JSA urged the Government to “not include the allocations of other departments in the current Budget under health budget and to mention them separately”, among other things.
The National Health Policy (2017) had pegged health-spends at 2.5 per cent of the GDP by 2025 and according to one report of Parliamentary Standing Committee in March 2020, this would require the Union Government to allocate ₹1.6 lakh crore in 2021-22. “But we regret that the government has not even allocated half of this amount. The allocations for Reproductive and Child Health Services under National Health Mission were increased by a mere ₹388 crore and by ₹300 crore on health and wellness centres. Both these programmes are important from the perspective of primary healthcare,” the JSA said.
During the pandemic, primary healthcare services were affected and there is a need to increase the expenditure on them. In 2021-22, the allocation for Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 schemes is ₹20,105 crore while the allocation in 2020-21 (BE) for the schemes was ₹24,557 crore, the note said, outlining similar schemes and calling for an increase in allocation.
Pointing to the ₹64,180 crore allocated to the new scheme, Pradhan Mantri Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, over six years, the note said, “Although the proposed components of the programme are good measures in the direction of eliminating some weaknesses of the health sector, there is no description of how this will be implemented. This is a centrally sponsored scheme but there is no information whether the States will have contribution in it.”