Industry eyes increased fund allocation for health in budget

India has been facing the Covid pandemic for two years now and the pharma industry has witnessed ups and downs during this period while the government has introduced some policies to strengthen India’s healthcare industry during the crisis.

But public health expenditure, as a share of country’s gross domestic product, is still low and the industry stakeholders are hopeful of a change this year as Covid has provided an opportunity to increase health spending in this budget.

“The Indian pharmaceutical industry is of strategic importance for the country, providing access to affordable quality medicines across the world. The pharmaceutical industry is science-based and knowledge-driven with scientific developments evolving at a rapid pace. The budget should spur innovation and set the pace for taking the pharmaceutical industry to the next level,” Sudarshan Jain, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, told IANS.

He said that the primary thrust for the Indian pharmaceutical industry going forward should be to move up the value chain by scaling up R&D and innovation to meet the unmet needs of patients across the world.

“The industry should evolve from ‘Make in India’ to ‘Make and Discover in India, for India and World’ fulfilling the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” he added.

Jain underlined that as we have been into the pandemic for the last two years, everyone has talked about strengthening of health infrastructure. “But it can not be done with spending just 1.2 per cent of the GDP, and instead the health spending should go around 2.5 per cent of GDP this year.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has remained a challenge for the healthcare system as lack of adequate infrastructure and the shortage of basic medical equipment are some points which emerged as important obstacles in providing heathcare services in rural areas.

“The industry expects that preventive medicines will get important places because of Covid pandemic in this budget,” said Dr Ravi Mallik of Radix Healthcare.

He said that they are hopeful that fund allocation for health will increase in this budget to strengthen the health infrastructure across the nation. In developed nations, over 12 per cent of GDP is spent on health, he said, adding that India’s health share in GDP should increase to 2.5 per cent.

Dr V.K. Monga, Chairman, DMA Nursing Home Forum, said that the Covid pandemic has exposed the health infrastructure of the country.

“We have to increase the spending on health to at least five per cent of total GDP to fight such pandemics.”

He added that lower government spending on health gives advantage to the private healthcare sector. People also prefer rivate hospitals as they are well-equipped with modern facilities which government hospitals lack. The government has to increase spending on health to make healthcare more efficient and accessible for all, Dr Monga said.

(Avinash Prabhakar can be reached at avinash.p@ians.in)

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