#Budget2021: Healthcare a top priority in the post-covid world

As one of the 6 crucial pillars of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. Healthy India, along with other sectors “will further strengthen the sankalp of Nation First”, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman stated while presenting the Budget 2021

The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman departs from North Block to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House, along with the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Anurag Singh Thakur and the senior officials to present the General Budget 2021-22, in New Delhi on February 01, 2021.
New Delhi: The Union Budget 2021-22 presented by the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman clearly reflected the deep imprint the global pandemic of COVID-19 has left on the country’s public health landscape.
Starting her Budget speech with the narration of the country’s fight against COVID-19, and the various timely, graded and proactive measures taken by the Union Government, the Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister strongly positioned Health & Wellbeing as one of the 6 crucial pillars of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. Healthy India, along with other sectors “will further strengthen the sankalp of Nation First”, she stated while presenting the Budget.
Health & Wellbeing have formed the topmost priority of the Union Government during the ongoing COVID health crisis. It is the foremost of the six crucial pillars that form foundation of the Union Budget.
Underscoring the significant importance of health and wellbeing for the growth and development of the country, the Budget allocation for the same has been increased to Rs 2,23,846 crore in BE 2021-22 as against this year’s BE of Rs 94,452 crore. This manifests into a sharp increase of 137 percentage.
Additionally, the Budget has brought a holistic approach to health as it has focused on strengthening three areas: Preventive, Curative, and well-being.
The Finance Minister stated that while the investment on Health Infrastructure in this Budget has increased substantially, “progressively, as institutions absorb more, we shall commit more”.
The details of the expenditure in the health and wellbeing sector are as below:
Health and Wellbeing – Expenditure (in Rs.crore)
Ministry/Department Actuals 2019-20 BE 2020-21 BE 2021-22
D/o Health & Family Welfare 62,397 65,012 71,269
D/o Health Research 1,934 2,100 2,663
M/o AYUSH 1,784 2,122 2,970
CoVID related Special Provisions
Vaccination 35,000
D/o Drinking Water & Sanitation 18,264 21,518 60,030
Nutrition 1880 3,700 2,700
FC Grants for Water and Sanitation 36,022
FC Grants for Health 13,192
TOTAL 86,259 94,452 2,23,846
PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana
Acknowledging the importance of robust health systems as a significant pillar of sustained progress in the health sector, a new centrally sponsored scheme, PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, will be launched with an outlay of about Rs 64,180 crore over 6 years. This will develop capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary care Health Systems, strengthen existing national institutions, and create new institutions, to cater to detection and cure of new and emerging diseases. This will be in addition to the National Health Mission.
The main interventions under the Scheme are:
  1. Support for 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centers
  2. Setting up integrated public health labs in all districts and 3382 block public health units in 11 states;
  3. Establishing critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts and 12 central institutions;
  4. Strengthening of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units;
  5. Expansion of the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs;
  6. Operationalisation of 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units at Points of Entry, that is at 32 Airports, 11 Seaports and 7 land crossings;
  7. Setting up of 15 Health Emergency Operation Centers and 2 mobile hospitals; and
  8. Setting up of a national institution for One Health, a Regional Research Platform for WHO South East Asia Region, 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories and 4 regional National Institutes for Virology.
Mission Poshan 2.0
Nutrition has been highlighted as an integral component of the country’s health and wellbeing. To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome, the Union Budget has proposed a merger of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and the Poshan Abhiyan. These will form the umbrella of Mission Poshan 2.0. An intensified strategy to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 Aspirational Districts has been proposed.
National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill
The Finance Minister pointed out that the National Commission for Allied Healthcare Professionals Bill has been introduced in Parliament with a view to ensuring transparent and efficient regulation of the 56 allied healthcare professions. She announced that The National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill will be introduced by the government for passing to bring about transparency, efficiency and governance reforms in the nursing profession.