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India slashes health budget by 20%
December 24, 2014, 7:06 am

The move could severely tax government-run hospitals and clinics that are invariably over-stretched and under-resourced [Xinhua]

The move could severely tax government-run hospitals and clinics that are invariably over-stretched and under-resourced [Xinhua]

In a setback to efforts to provide affordable healthcare to some of India’s poorest people, the Indian government has decided to cut 20 per cent of its health budget.

More than 60 billion rupees ($948 million) has been slashed from their budgetary allocation for the year ending 31 March 2015, said officials from the Indian Ministry of Health on Tuesday. The move could severely tax government-run hospitals and clinics that are invariably over-stretched and under-resourced.

Apart from being lowest among BRICS, India’s health expenditure is lower than military expenditure. India spends about 1.3 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on public health while it spends 2.4 per cent on military defense. In contrast, India’s BRICS partner South Africa spent more than 8.5 per cent of GDP on healthcare in 2012.

The Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is struggling to achieve the 2014/15 fiscal deficit target of 4.1 per cent of GDP.

A Reuters report quoted unnamed Indian Health Ministry officials as saying the Finance Ministry has also ordered a spending cut for India’s HIV/AIDS programme by about 30 per cent to 13 billion rupees ($205.4 million).

According to a 2011 study in the medical publication Lancet, 39 million Indians are pushed into poverty every year due to medical costs.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring Chinese government has poured billions of pounds into healthcare reform in recent years, and the system has improved accordingly. Currently, 99 per cent of the rural population gets some kind of insurance, up from 21 per cent a decade ago. China plans to roll out universal coverage by 2020.

India fares poorly in socio-economic indicators, writes development economist, Professor Reeitka Khera.

“India’s use of its meagre public resources is also a cause for concern. Public services tend to have the first claim on public revenues in other countries. With close of half of Indian children being undernourished, one-third being illiterate it is not clear how the ruling class obsessed with “superpower” status hopes to achieve it. The refusal to invest in its main economic “resource” – her own people – will ultimately prove counterproductive for the ruling class as well as ordinary people,” says Khera.

 

TBP and Agencies

 

One Response to India slashes health budget by 20%

  1. Dr. Bijnan K. Bera Reply

    December 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Medical Service Centre’s stand on central health budget cut

    Dr. Bijnan K. Bera, General Secretary, Medical Service Centre, Central Committee in a statement issued today on the central health budgetary cut said:

    “We vehemently protest the slash of the central health outlay by a fifth as being ordered by the Central Finance Ministry on the plea of financial crunch. This will severely cripple the already tottering health care delivery system of our country.
    “In this connection we would like to point out that we have been opposing tooth-and-nail the PPPP-NRHM/NUHM-NHM policy being pursued by the successive central and state governments. Though the present ruling BJP had promised improvement of public health system and free medicines and treatment for the people in their election manifesto and PM Modi subsequently promised of ‘achhe din’, they not only did not revoke these anti-people policies but pursued these in all vigour. Hence we had already protested that such good-phrased slogans were publicity stunts to mask their anti-people design. Their anti-people stand of pushing the people down the abyss, and gift on a platter for the MNCs was amply portrayed by Modi’s cut of 108 preparations from the Drug Price Control Order to allow greater profits before he left for US ///is being protested by us though out the country. We are of the firm opinion that all these steps are contrary to right of people to health, stand for commodification of health, and serve corporate health care and insurance system at the cost of government health care.
    “We demand immediate withdrawal of such undemocratic orders and insist upon the Central and state Governments to take up the responsibility of people’s health, and allocate at least 10% of budget to achieve the same.”

    Circulated by
    Dr. Ansuman Mitra +91 9433122534; +91 9831476392; msc_cc@rediffmail.com
    Joint Secretary, Central Committee

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