A parliamentary panel has asked the Centre to increase budgetary allocation for critical healthcare research after it found “huge” mismatch between demand and allocation of funds for schemes of Department of Health Research (DHR).
The panel recommended increased investments in health research to provide affordable and quality healthcare and noted that in the USA, the budget of National Institute of Health, which functions like that of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) under DHR, is 32 billion dollars per year.
The parliamentary panel also supported the DHR’s demand for additional funds to the tune of Rs 835 crore for 2017-18.
“The committee notes that against the 12th Plan Outlay of Rs 10,029 crore, only Rs 3,575.17 crore was allocated to the department at Budget Estimate stage which was further reduced to Rs 3,266.50 crore in the Revised Estimate (RE) (around 32 per cent of the approved outlay),” the panel on Demands for Grants 2017-18 for DHR said.
“The actual expenditure was Rs 3,180.99 crore up to February, 2017. The committee observes that there is a huge mismatch to the tune of Rs 6,762.50 crore between 12th Plan outlay and the RE allocation made to the department,” it said.
India’s rapidly growing economy has thrown up huge health challenges and DHR has a “crucial” role to play in ensuring healthcare service to the population by way of generation of new knowledge and its translation into health projects.
The committee, chaired by Ram Gopal Yadav, noted that there is a “huge, persistent and recurring” mismatch between the projected demand for funds and actual allocation of schemes of DHR.
“The government owes an explanation to the committee on the reasons behind such a huge gap between the budgetary allocation made to DHR from 2012-13 to 2016-17 and the total approved outlays for the 12th Five Year Plan and its impact on the department’s vision to bring modern technology to the people through innovations,” it said.
“The department has informed that it (funds constraint) has impacted implementation of DHR’s schemes by restricting sanctioning of new units on priority, providing recurring grants to ongoing ones, upgrading ICMR’s health research infrastructure and pendency of extramural proposals due to non-availability of budgetary allocations,” the panel said.
“The committee is of the view that funds constraint should not be a hurdle in prioritising health research and developing new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics,” the panel said.