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Deep cuts to India’s health spending will delay universal access to healthcare

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h1632 (Published 09 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1632
  1. Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  1. jayatijnu{at}gmail.com

Jayati Ghosh reflects on the government’s decision, which reduces already paltry health spending even further

In the current fiscal year (1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015) the Indian government, which came to power in May 2014, has slashed spending by as much as 20-50% in several critical areas of health spending, when compared with its own budgetary promises.1 2

This was evident from about mid-November, when the finance minister announced that tax collections were below expectations, and so he proposed cutting public spending to meet the fiscal deficit target. These cuts were made without any public accountability—and without public knowledge—and some budgets, particularly in the health and social sectors, were cut much more sharply than others.

Capital spending that provides building for hospitals and clinics and provides other basic amenities made up only 52% of the budgetary outlay. Spending on the National Health Mission (NHM), which is designed to provide basic services on the ground through a network of accredited social health activists (ASHAs) who are paid a …

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