(Vidyadhar Rane/HT)
(Vidyadhar Rane/HT)

Maha budget: Rs7,500 crore to upgrade health facilities over four years

In view of the crumbling of health infrastructure seen during the Covid pandemic, the state on Monday announced a slew of schemes in its budget to improve facilities across Maharashtra
By Faisal Malik, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 01:03 AM IST

In view of the crumbling of health infrastructure seen during the Covid pandemic, the state on Monday announced a slew of schemes in its budget to improve facilities across Maharashtra.

The state plans to spend 7,500 crore for constructing and upgrading health infrastructure over the next four years. It will also spend 5,000 crore to improve quality of health services in tier-2 cities in the next five years. Of the total, 800 crore will be spent this year.

State finance minister Ajit Pawar also announced the opening of new medical colleges in Sindhudurg, Osmanabad, Nashik, Raigad and Satara. In addition, medical colleges will be set up at Parbhani and Amravati. The colleges will be set up through public-private partnership (PPP) policy. This will lead to an increase of 1,990 seats for degree courses, 1,000 seats for post-graduate courses and 200 in super-specialties.

“The Covid pandemic has underlined the need for health care reforms in all aspects of the health sector. A project costing about 7,500 crore has been prepared to provide quality health care and treatment to people by constructing and upgrading health institutions under the public health department and it will be completed in the next four years. The proposal includes construction of district hospital, psychiatric hospital, trauma care centre, primary health centre and sub-centre, upgrade and construction of taluka level hospital,” Pawar said in his budget speech.

He said the government has realised the state must have modern hospitals for treatment of infectious diseases. Consequently, it has decided to set up a modern referral service hospital for infectious disease on the premises of Aundh district hospital. It has planned to set up sub-centres of these hospitals at divisional and district levels in different phases. Also, cardiac cath labs will be set up at eight central locations across the state, as patients with heart disease need angiography within 24 hours.

“Considering the spread of infectious diseases, the government intends to make radical changes in the curriculum related to paramedical patient care and give priority and encouragement to branches related to nursing. For this, 11 government nursing schools affiliated to government medical colleges will be converted into nursing colleges. Also, in phases, physiotherapy and occupational therapy colleges will be established in all 17 government medical colleges,” the finance minister said.

The state has allocated a fund of 16,839 crore for the health department, which comes to 3.48% of the budget size. It is 1,091 crore more compared to last year when 15,748 crore was allocated. However, the state spent 2,348 crore more than the total budgetary allocation owing to the pandemic.This also means the allocation for 2021-22 is 1,257 crore less that what is spent in the outgoing financial year. Dr Sanjay Pattiwar, public health expert, said there is a big difference between public health infrastructure in rural and urban areas.

“In rural areas, we have better infrastructure, but don’t have qualified doctors and health workers, whereas urban areas have more manpower but are lagging in public health infrastructure,” Pattiwar said.

In addition, the state has also declared to start cancer diagnosis facility in 150 hospitals across the state, post Covid Counselling and Treatment Centres in each and every district hospital and government medical college in urban areas, following complaints of lung, liver and kidney ailments as well as mental stress among patients who recovered from the disease.

The state had to develop temporary facilities including jumbo hospitals to accommodate patients following a spike in Covid-19 cases, which has gone up to 24,619 in a day on September 17.

It also had to request the Kerala government to provide 50 specialist doctors and 100 nurses on temporary basis to handle the need of additional manpower required to run the temporary facilities in Mumbai.

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