India cuts health budget by 20%

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 02 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h4
  1. Sanjeet Bagcchi
  1. 1Kolkata

India, which already has one of the lowest health expenditures in the world, is reportedly making cuts of almost 20% in its 2014-15 healthcare budget.

A cut of over 60 billion Indian rupees (£610m; €786m; $948m) has been made from the total budget allocation of 351.63 billion Indian rupees for health and family welfare covering the financial year ending on 31 March, two health ministry officials told the Reuters news agency.1

The opposition Congress party has attacked the government over the cut. Abhishek Singhvi, a Congress spokesman, said, “A major and regrettable decision has been taken by the government of India almost in stealth and surreptitiously to reduce [the] health budget by 20%. BJP’s [Bharatiya Janata Party] manifesto had earlier talked of overarching health insurance. Modi ji [the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi] had talked about a national health mission worth 1.6 trillion rupees.”2

Health experts have also expressed concern over the proposed cut, as India’s health spending was already low: despite dramatic growth in its economy over the past 20 years India spends only 1% of its gross domestic product on public health, compared with 3% in China and 8.3% in the United States.

Shantanu Panja, chief consultant at the department of head and neck surgery at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals in Kolkata, told The BMJ, “At this point in time the whole medical fraternity in India is deeply concerned with this decision. Public health is one area which needs prioritisation in order to maintain the health fabric of any country.

“I am sure that the government is aware of this and that it would take necessary steps to amend its decision in the days to come, to rejuvenate the healthcare sector.”

Jayesh Kumar Jha, an associate professor at the department of surgical oncology at Kolkata’s Medical College and Hospital, said that a 20% cut was “just not possible.”

Jha said, “An enormous amount [of funding] needs to be spent on healthcare for detecting, treating, and preventing cancer. [The] sector is in dire need of funds, so any form of cuts in budget is bad news. Also, the allocated money needs to be better spent.”


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h4


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