The UPA government emphasised its commitment to rural health by giving a bulk of the increased health funding to the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) while ignoring the healthcare sector, which got none of the sops it had been asking for.
The NRHM outlay rose 17 per cent to Rs 14,127 crore this year, up by Rs 2,057 crore from the 12,070 crore provided in the interim budget. It accounted for almost the entire increase in health outlay, which increased to Rs 19,380 crore from 16,534 crore in 2008-09.
Launched in 2005 to make affordable healthcare accessible to the rural India, the NRHM is intended to bring down infant and maternal mortality, reduce the total fertility rate, reduce prevalence of certain widespread diseases and upgrade community health centers.
“Increased funds for public health are always welcome but the government should have also strengthened disease prevention,” said Dr Shrinath Reddy, cardiologist, chairman, Public Health Foundation of India. “Taxes on tobacco products could have been increased.”
“The budget was a non event for the healthcare sector,” said Shivinder Singh, managing director of Fortis Healthcare. “We expected the sector would be granted infrastructure status, which has not happened.”