Rise in India’s health budget is “disappointing,” say experts

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 04 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1338
  1. Ganapati Mudur
  1. New Delhi

Health experts have described increases to India’s health budget as “disappointing” despite new money for improved access to low cost generic medicines and higher, publicly funded health insurance cover for poor people.

In budget proposals announced on 29 February for the fiscal year starting 1 April 2016, the finance ministry allocated 370 billion rupees (£3.9bn; €5.0bn; $5.5bn) to healthcare services, a 19% increase on last year.

The ministry announced health insurance cover of up to Rs130 000 per household, a nationwide dialysis programme, and an increase in the number of government funded pharmacies that sell low cost generic medicines, up from fewer than 300 at present to more than 3000.

Members of the private healthcare sector welcomed the proposals, saying that they outlined fresh steps to protect families from health expenses. But several public health experts expressed concerns that the government was pulling away from public health facilities while encouraging the private sector.

Although the Indian health ministry is yet to provide …

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