Promises alone cannot improve people's health; government should know that -Kundan Pandey
-Down to Earth
Now, government has promised ‘world’s largest health scheme’ whose implementation is not possible, at least in 2018.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) used the phrase ‘quality health for all’ in its manifesto when Narendra Modi was pushing for his prime ministerial candidature in 2014. It gave hope to many who were campaigning for robust healthcare system in India. However, with the government completing four years in office, nothing has changed on the ground. What people generally remember is the worrying trend of hospital deaths, especially the incidents like Gorakhpur where 70 children died due to lack of oxygen.
In its manifesto, BJP had promised 'health assurance to all Indians'. After four years, it is still a promise but in new form. Now, government has promised ‘world’s largest health scheme’ whose implementation is not possible, at least in 2018.
Those who were impressed with BJP manifesto regarding health, were taken by surprise when, within months of assuming office, government slashed 20 per cent of central funds committed to the health sector.
A document prepared by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, a public campaign which monitors government’s claim, says that 2017-18 budget was less than the 2011-12 budget, if inflation is adjusted.
According to the report, overall allocation to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) saw a marginal increase from Rs 32,819 crore to Rs 37,061 crore in 2016-17. After adjusting inflation, the increase is a mere five per cent per capita.
While the union budget of 2015-16 announced a 5.7 per cent cut in total allocation to the health sector, the 2016-17 budget allowed a marginal rise of just five per cent when adjusted for inflation and there was similar marginal increase in 2017-18 budget too, the report says.
Despite government’s claims on health, the budget received for the National Rural Health Mission and the expenditure thereunder was only about 40 per cent of what was envisaged for full revitalisation of the NRHM framework.
In the last budget, government has slashed budget of crucial programmes, including the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) programme, which is a major source of funds for maternal and child health. This budgetary cut happened when India has to reduce child and maternal mortality rate to meet its commitment under Sustainable Development Goals. The budget for RCH has been slashed by 30 per cent this year from Rs 7,545 crore in 2017-18 (revised) to just Rs 5,253 crore.
The National Health Mission (NHM) is the largest programme to support and upgrade public health services across rural and urban areas of the country. Compared to allocation of Rs 30,801 crore in 2017-18 (revised estimates), the budget for NHM has been reduced this year to Rs 30,129 crore.
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