Hyderabad: The health care sector on Saturday hailed the Union Budget with leading players hoping that the initiatives announced by the Finance Minister will have a positive impact.
Dr K. Hari Prasad, President, Apollo Group Hospitals, noted that after many years, healthcare received significant importance in the Union Budget. He said the initiatives from illness to wellness indicate a holistic approach towards the sector.
“Swachch Bharat, clean drinking water, improved nutrition for women & children, Fit India movement and wellness centers are great initiatives promoting wellness and are welcome measures,” he said.
There is severe shortage of hospital beds particularly outside the metro cities. This has been addressed by providing viability gap funding in Tier – 2 and Tier – 3 cities and towns where facilities do not exist to deliver services under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, Hari Prasad said.
He believes that bringing down of taxes on medical devices and encouraging manufacture of medical equipment and devices will be useful tools to make Ayushman Bharat viable. “However we need to wait to see the details to understand actual impact on the cost structure for providers to cater to the Ayushman Bharat Scheme,” he said.
Dr Bollineni Bhaskar Rao, Managing Director, KIMS Hospitals, noted that considerable allocations were made towards the health care sector in the Union Budget. “Extension of Ayushman Bharat empanelment to tier-2 and tier-3 regions will help effective last mile delivery of quality health care. VGF towards setting up of hospitals under PPP model too is a welcome decision,” he said.
He termed the initiative to defeat TB by 2025 as “much appreciable’. “Overcoming the menace of tuberculosis will help our country emerge into ‘Healthy India, Productive India’. As a health care provider myself, I give a thumbs up to this year’s Budget.”
Satish Reddy, Chairman, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd and President, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, however, said the industry had high expectations of this Budget as it was seen to be an opportunity to announce big, bold reforms given the state of the economy. “On that count, there is a degree of disappointment in some quarters as expectations have not been met. However, I am happy to see that health care continues to be an integral part of the government’s key priorities,” said Reddy.
The announcement on the expansion of the Ayushman Bharat program by setting up additional hospitals in tier 2 and 3 cities is a welcome move. Other measures in improving the health care infrastructure and capacity building in the sector are also commendable, he said.
Dr Prasanna Deshpande, Deputy Managing Director, Indian Immunologicals Limited said that the allocation of Rs 69,000 crore for health care and opening of hospitals in tier 2 and tier 3 cities are certainly positive steps in ensuring better health care.
“It is encouraging to see the government’s thrust on launching campaigns to eliminate animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis by 2025. This ambitious goal will help in improving animal health in the country and increase livestock productivity. The proposal to expand the coverage of artificial insemination to 70 per cent from 30 per cent will also assist in increasing livestock productivity and benefit farmers,” he said.
Dr Alok Roy, chairman of Medica group of Hospitals, lauded the government for showing commitment towards healthy India by providing Rs 69,000 crore to the healthcare sector. “It has rightfully focused on bringing in several key structural reforms for the nation moving towards that goal. It is heartening to see the government’s display of commitment and concern towards rural healthcare by announcing more empanelled hospitals under the flagship Ayushman Bharat Scheme in Tier 2 and 3 cities. The budget has rightly outlined by specifically focusing on those areas where there are no hospitals.”