Interim Budget 2024: A vision for a healthier and more resilient India

Interim Budget 2024: A vision for a healthier and more resilient India

The Interim Budget 2024, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, sets the stage for a transformation in the healthcare sector, addressing key issues and laying the foundation for a healthier and more resilient India. The budget reflects the government’s commitment to improving infrastructure, focusing on preventive healthcare, and empowering women and grassroots workers.

The budget proposes to establish more medical colleges using existing hospital facilities across various departments. A dedicated committee will be formed to address pertinent issues and provide recommendations in this regard. This will enhance the medical education infrastructure and increase the availability of qualified doctors and specialists in the country.

The budget also aims to foster innovation and knowledge exchange in the healthcare sector, by allowing select ICMR labs to open their facilities for research collaboration with public and private medical college faculty as well as the private sector. This will create a conducive environment for scientific discovery and development of new solutions for public health challenges.

Preventive healthcare takes centre stage

The budget recognizes the need for preventive healthcare to reduce the disease burden and mitigate the challenges arising from the shortfall in healthcare infrastructure compared to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended standards. As the Finance Minister highlighted, rapid population growth will likely affect India’s growth plans, more so from a healthcare perspective.

The budget announces several initiatives to prioritize preventive healthcare, such as:

  • Vaccination of girls aged 9-14 against cervical cancer, which is among the most common cancers in India and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
  • Accelerated rollout of the ‘U-Win’ platform for managing immunization, along with the intensification of Mission Indradhanush, which aims to achieve full immunization coverage for all children and pregnant women.
  • A mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047, involving the screening of seven crore people, especially in tribal areas where the disease is prevalent.
  • Consolidation of various maternal and child healthcare schemes under a comprehensive program for better coordination and implementation.

Empowerment of women and grassroots workers

The budget also focuses on empowering women and grassroots workers, who play a vital role in delivering healthcare services to rural communities. The budget proposes to:

  • Include all ASHA and Anganwadi workers and helpers in the Ayushman Bharat scheme, expanding the coverage and enhancing the reach of essential healthcare services to rural communities.
  • Expedite the upgradation of Anganwadi centres under the Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0, which serve as crucial centres for maternal and child health in rural areas and for improved nutrition delivery.
  • Financially empower women through Lakhpati Didi schemes, which address the social determinants of health, creating a healthier environment for all.

The Interim Budget 2024 holds promise for the healthcare industry, aligning with the government’s vision for Viksit Bharat by 2047. It offers a glimpse into India’s vision for “Universal Health Coverage” that blends innovation with availability, accessibility, and affordability.