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Spend more on health: Plan panel

delhi Updated: Nov 29, 2011 02:13 IST
Sanchita Sharma

The government — both centre and states — should increase public spending on health from the current 1.2% of the GDP to 2.5% by the end of the 12th Plan, and to 3.5% of GDP by 2022, proposed the Planning Commission’s high-level group on universal health coverage on Monday.

It was proposed that primary healthcare, including health promotion targeted at preventable risk factors, should account for 70% of all government healthcare expenditure.

The government said it would work in close partnership with the private sector, which accounts for 70% of healthcare delivery in India.

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Chaired by Dr K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, the expert group has been set up to provide a blueprint for universal health coverage by 2020 by developing critical management reforms to fund and improve efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of health delivery across the country.

One of the subjects of contention at the meeting was user fee, with some members proposing to recover costs and

discourage misuse of health services. Dr Reddy, among others, said experiences from around the world showed that implementing user-fee keeps the poor away from hospitals. Instead, they proposed general taxation as the primary source of funding be complemented with additional deductions from salaried people and tax payers.

The group also proposed that all purchases should be the sole responsibility of ministries and departments of health. The draft report was unanimously accepted and, with a few modifications, will be submitted to the Centre by March, 2012.