New Delhi :
Noting that India’s spend on healthcare is much lower than some fellow BRICS and SAARC nations, a health body has asked the Centre to bolster investments in health, particularly in family planning, in the upcoming budget.
Insisting that increasing the budget allocation for health and family planning is of “utmost concern”, Population Foundation of India (PFI) has said low spending by the country in the sector has caused growing inequities, insufficient access and poor quality of healthcare services.
“India spends just 1.3 per cent of its GDP on healthcare. This figure is much lower compared to BRICS countries - Brazil spends around 8.3 per cent, Russian Federation 7.1 per cent and South Africa around 8.8 per cent.
“Among SAARC countries, Afghanistan spends 8.2 per cent, Maldives 13.7 per cent and Nepal 5.8 per cent. This low spending by India has been a cause for the growing inequities, insufficient access (to), and poor quality of healthcare services,” Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, PFI said.
PFI said the 12th five year plan recommends increasing public expenditure on health to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2017.
Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, the government’s allocations for Health Ministry increased by 13 per cent but the share of National Health Mission in the Ministry’s budget declined to 48 per cent.
Trends in budget allocations indicate that percentage share to family planning has remained unchanged between 2013-14 and 2016-17 -- at 2 per cent of the total Health Ministry’s budget.
Noting that during 2015-16, 59 per cent of government fund was released primarily in the last quarter while 72 per cent was released in the first two quarters in 2014-15, PFI said this evidences staggered supply of funds for health resources and affects investments.
“Investing in health is critical for achieving the economic development goals. The health sector, which drives domestic demand for health care, has the potential of providing new jobs. The lack of skilled workforce is stark in the health sector. Increased investment will also bring down the prices of health services and assist in sustaining the medium term inflation target of four per cent.
“Adequate and proportionate resources invested (in health and specifically family planning) in the upcoming budget announcement will bear positive dividends for the country’s future,” Muttreja said.