The healthcare community has greeted the Union Budget 2022 with mixed reactions. While some have lauded the stress on mental health, digital infra, unique health ID, women and rural, others have expressed reservations against what they feel is a lost opportunity. So is the glass half full or half empty? Voice of Healthcare helps you gain perspective and make sense by bringing together the expert views of a rich cross-section of healthcare leaders, practitioners and visionaries. Read on.
Digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities under the National Digital Health Mission are positive steps towards enabling access to healthcare for the wider population. Similarly, we are glad that mental health and the challenges put forward by the pandemic are being tackled at a National level with the launch of Tele-Mental Health Programme. Upgrade of 2 lakh Anganwadis with better facilities will further enable the primary healthcare system and much needed healthcare support in remote & rural areas.
While it is good to see that the focus on Digitisation, Sustainability, Energy Conservation and Development of Infrastructure has taken a clear precedence in Union Budget 2022, the allocation towards Healthcare is not to the level we anticipated. Coming out of the shadows of the pandemic, it is most important to allocate at least 3% of the Budget to healthcare.
As expected, Budget 22-23 was a balanced effort to improve overall economic growth. Today, the healthcare sector in India is at a much stronger position than ever before. Measures introduced in Budget 2022-23 will further strengthen the healthcare sector while focusing on prevailing challenges.
The rollout of a National Digital Health Ecosystem will ensure that all segments of the society are able to access affordable and adequate healthcare in a seamless and efficient manner. Such an ecosystem can potentially make universal healthcare a reality for India.
Further, the fact that mental health counselling and care services found a place in the budget is a testament to how far we have come as a country. Inarguably, the Covid pandemic has adversely affected the mental health of the population at large. Thus, the launch of a National Tele Mental Health program can play a catalytic role in both normalising conversations around mental health as well as ensuring that people are able to seek support for mental health related challenges.
Though there was not much for the medical devices industry directly in the Budget, the industry will benefit from the Government's increased focus on healthcare. The National healthcare mission outlay has been kept at ~37,000 crores like previous year and this is a bit disappointing, considering the fact our healthcare infrastructure needs big boost in the coming years. The demand from all healthcare experts was to increase healthcare outlay in the current budget.
“It is assuring to see that the government’s annual budget has majorly focused on women, youth, and rural development. Moreover, in the tough times of pandemic, a strong vaccination campaign, ‘sabka prayas’, has been fruitful to combat the present Omicron wave. I am sure the healthcare system shall hold the fort of public health in the coming times as well.
Focus on ensuring better access to healthcare services through an open platform of National Digital Health Ecosystem, introduction of National Tele Mental Health Program, and a larger focus on Women and Child development through Saksham Anganwadi programmes in terms of health, nutrition and required infrastructure is extremely welcoming. Greater fund and resource allocation to enhancing the healthcare infrastructure both in urban areas as well as in tier 2-3 towns have been prioritized.
The budget also highlighted the importance of Genomics and AI aptly in future. However, a larger push to overall infrastructure, manpower and investments in Public-Private investments in Public-Private Partnerships which can help in further strengthening the healthcare ecosystem in the country remains undiscussed.”
The Union Budget 2022 came with a new perspective of addressing mental health and creating a National Digital Health Ecosystem. It is a welcome step by the Government to address Mental Health as we have seen a much increase in mental health issues during the Pandemic Period. It will also be interesting to see the application of digital initiatives by the Government in other healthcare-related issues in the coming year.
While the National Digital Health Ecosystem will help bring some much-needed standardisation in Healthcare, it will also boost the growth of Healthcare Insurance and benefit the community at large. The Digital ecosystem is a great step towards providing universal coverage for all and will help policy makers in understanding further gaps in our Healthcare system. We will need to go through the finer prints to understand the impact of the Budget on Public Health spending and Government Programs.
Said, "I was happy to note the government decided to launch a national Tele Mental Health Program. The open program for the National Digital Health ecosystem is a welcome step given the widespread devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially on the mental health of people across all age groups, from kids to senior citizens. Of course, much will depend on the quality of its implementation inequitably providing counseling and care services to people across the length and breadth of the country.
Another welcome move is the decision to provide tax relief for the differently-abled and their dependents. Having said that, it was disappointing not to hear of any announcement on many critical areas facing the healthcare industry, like the urgent need to raise healthcare expenditure to at least around 2.5% of GDP. Given the chronic issues facing healthcare in India, 1.8 percent falls short of addressing the lingering challenges on the ground. We also need universal health coverage to enforce uniformity of treatment through cross-subsidy, devoid of financial strain and debt traps for the economically challenged.
I was also expecting heartening policy measures on many other key issues; like the investments in tech-enabled systems using predictive genomics to fight the evolving mutations and likelihood of newer microorganisms, rationalization of the tax structure around life-saving drugs and emergency treatments, as also lowering of GST slabs and raising of tax deduction limits that are imperative to serve the larger cause of insurance."
The major focus of the Union budget is infra spending, given its sheer size and interconnectedness. The overall growth and development of the infra sector will also help provide better healthcare services to all citizens and help creating jobs in the country. The National Digital Health Ecosystem will help create a robust platform for managing all health records and help provide universal access of records to all citizens across India. Given the Covid-19 pandemic our budget has also focused on addressing Tele mental Health program which is a step in the right direction and will also benefit a large number of patients. The pandemic has emphasized on issues relating to mental health which is a progressive move as it will not only ensure quality counseling but also enable people to realize the issue of mental health formally with adequate solutions because mental health wasn’t looked at, as an ailment until recently.
This Budget seems to have balanced out infrastructure and healthcare well. A lauded initiative by the FM Nirmala Sitharaman is the National Digital Health Ecosystem which will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities. The budget has correctly highlighted the imperative for greater emphasis on innovation, research, and development, which are crucial to helping India reach the aspirational goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy.
The pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. To better the access to quality mental health counselling and care services, a National Tele Mental Health program has also been launched. We are delighted that the government has recognised and considered strengthening the healthcare system for betterment of individuals, healthcare workers and hospitals along with the required infrastructure. It’s a growth focussed budget which is the need of the hour.'
“Union Budget 22-23 comes with a long-term perspective overall for the Indian economy recovery after the pandemic and this acknowledges the resilience of the nation in fighting the setback to emerge stronger. Marking Azadi ka AmritMahotsav with a focus on complementing micro & macroeconomy, promoting digital economy and private & public investments outlines the road ahead for the next 25 years and we are at an important intersection point right now to adapt to changes for growth and development.
The central focus on manufacturing equipment, launching an open platform for the national digital health ecosystem is aimed to improve the quality of life and healthcare infrastructure. In a short span, 95 percent of 112 aspirational districts have made significant progress in health, nutrition, financial inclusion, and basic infrastructure. They have surpassed even some of the state average value. We are driven to support this transformational growth by enabling states with the required infrastructure and capacity for providing healthcare services and making these facilities better prepared and future-ready. One very critical impact of the pandemic has been on the mental health of people and the initiative from GoI to address this growing concern is laudable with the amalgamation of technology, AI, and healthcare as a nation we can win over this silent pandemic of mental wellness.
From a supply-chain standpoint, the last two years have been very challenging and as stated in the survey 2022, the government had opted for a barbell strategy to cushion the impact on vulnerable sections, with the covid restrictions easing out we hope for a pickup and recovery in the overall supply chain scenario and an upturn in the performance of the sector. With the gradual unlocking of the economy, record vaccinations, improvement in consumer demand, and continued support by the government in the form of AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and further reinforcements we are well throttled towards economic recovery this fiscal.”
“Rising concerns relating to health have been worrisome amongst young individuals and adults alike in the country for quite a while.
The pandemic has only further escalated and triggered these issues, further causing a rise in the same. We warmly welcome the decision taken by the Honourable Finance Minister in the budget to set up a National Tele-Mental Health Programme, to support the mental health grievances of citizens across the country. It is a much-needed initiative that holds the potential to provide assistance and guidance to those who are suffering.
We truly believe that one’s mental health is as important as their physical well-being, and if there is something that’s bothering and affecting them, we want them to know we are here for them. MediBuddy has been a pioneer in the industry at assisting individuals dealing with mental health issues.
We have the teleconsultation infrastructure in place to tackle any health problems and are geared to extend our assistance in any way required to strengthen this initiative. We are confident this will aid in helping people who need support and timely care.”
With the pandemic still seizing hold on the world, the healthcare sector has taken the centre stage during this year’s budget & it has given healthcare a much-needed digital push. Rolling out an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem, setting up of National TeleHealth Mental Scheme, incentivising start-ups, which would include health, and ‘Drone Shakti’ are innovative ideas and in the right direction.
The digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities provided under the National Digital Health Ecosystem will provide access to healthcare digitally in the remotest of areas where even the Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are unavailable.
To further push the digital mission, it is vital for the government to partner with the private sector and use the technological innovations coming from creative start-ups in the field.
A point noteworthy is the ‘Drone Shakti’ – a plan to encourage drone technology. This could be used in multiple ways in the healthcare segment too.
The Government has also recognised the mental health crisis, exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, but we need to see how it is implemented in a way that it goes beyond cities to the corners of the country, because there are challenges around providing teleconsultation access to people, and ensuring they are comfortable and willing to speak over a digital health helpline.
This is India's first post-vaccination budget and the policy consistency is maintained. The planned increase in capital expenditure is likely to boost economic growth and employment. There is a thrust on macro areas like digital, VC-ecosystem, ease of doing business and supportive measures for R&D and industry-academia collaboration with Pharma included in the Sunrise sectors.
The extension time limit for the commencement of business to claim benefits of concessional tax regime for manufacturing companies has been extended by a year to 31 March 2024. This will support the investment in pharma manufacturing. Details are being examined and the implementation will be key going forward.
In today's budget the aim to provide internet connection in every village that was announced can enable telemedicine services to expand rapidly in rural India. The roll out of the National Digital Health Ecosystem and Tele mental health programs for counselling will further enable the growth of telehealth in India.
Some other projects that were announced will also have a positive impact on public health. For example, the Rs 60000 crore allocated to enable tapwater supply to 38 million households will allow for cleaner, safer water to homes. This will reduce the chances of diarrhoeal diseases and growth stunting apart from making living easier for millions of households.
Said that focus on mental health is a welcome step in the budget. With the pandemic negatively impacting mental health of the masses, leading to a rise in mental health issues is a matter of concern. The tele- mental health program through various excellence centres is a positive step towards encouraging people to take necessary help without hesitation. Although I feel that people should walk- in to the experts for consultation, the tele initiative will at least enable them to reach the last mile.
"The upcoming launch of an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem is exciting news for us. It will include digital registries of health providers and facilities, a unique health identity, and universal access to health facilities, all of which will aid us in saving lives by allowing us access to contextual health information in quick time, enabling faster and better medical response in emergencies.
The Union Budget is a progressive one that holds the potential to tackle the economic challenges faced by the country in the post-COVID period. It is heartening to see Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s focus on sectors like Health, including Digital Health Ecosystem and Mental Health and Wellbeing.
The FM’s announcement of the National Digital Health Ecosystem is laudable. The open platform that will consist of digital registries of health providers, health facilities, unique health identity, and universal access to health facilities, will go a long way in providing quality and on-demand healthcare to the country’s people.
Realizing the tremendous pressure piled on the minds of the people of India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FM’s announcement of the National Tele Mental Health program couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
We welcome the Union Budget for the financial year 2022-23 and look forward to working with the government and all stakeholders to bring quality healthcare to the people of India.
”As an integral member of the health-tech fraternity, we thank and congratulate the Government for presenting an inclusive and progressive Union budget 2022.
The Government has allocated much needed and promising budget of 64,180 crore to improve health services and infrastructure over the next six years. As the sector recovers from the impact of the COVID pandemic, these funds will provide the much-needed relief and support the healthcare machinery of the country.
The Modi government has always been progressive and promoted innovation and technology. The announcement around 'National Digital Health Ecosystem' is another welcome effort in the direction of bringing inclusivity, universal access, transparency and enhancing governance in the healthcare sector.
But what is refreshing and praiseworthy, is the launch of the 'National Tele Mental Health program'. This announcement not only acknowledges the need for recognising mental health issues but is also a step towards irradicating the unnecessary stigma.
Consistent and effective focus on COVID vaccination drive has shown positive results in the past months. As India recovers from the 3rd wave of the pandemic, collaborative efforts by all healthcare stakeholders – public and private will go a long way in keeping India safe and healthy
Last but not the least, the healthcare sector like many others, has survived and thrived on the back of innovative start-ups that have provided novel solutions to problems triggered by the pandemic. Government has acknowledged the role of start-ups as economic growth drivers and the tax relief extension is a valuable and welcome move.”
The Union Budget 2022 is a testimony of the technology-enabled wherewithal that India@75 has achieved. Higher allocation to the MSME sector, start-ups and the PLI Scheme will give a subsequent push to infrastructure development, which is a major driver of growth for India. The mental Health & Digital Health push along with the One-Nation-One Registration towards Ease of Doing Business and Compliance are some of the positive steps that will again propel growth in the long term.
Further, the announcement on Public Procurement by allowing 75% prompt payments and bringing in a weighted price preference on account of Quality which is especially critical in healthcare-related medical devices are welcomed. No retrograde steps, and nothing rolled back is assuring that commitments made in the last budget especially in the healthcare sector to deal with the pandemic will continue to propel the sector in fostering innovation.
Overall, a balanced Budget which looks at consistency, and focuses on Atmanirbhar Bharat with a digital and green growth lens.
Budget 2022 has surely come as a booster dose for the healthcare sector.
The new initiatives announced by the Finance Minister will help India recover from the damages to the healthcare infrastructure caused by the pandemic and strengthen it further. These initiatives, especially the open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will also help strengthen the healthcare sector of the nation at the core. The past few years have revolutionised the way mental health is being viewed, I am sure that the National Tele Mental Health program will receive a very warm welcome.
The Tax breaks for setting up hospitals in tier 2 and tier 3 cities is highly appreciated, this break will encourage the boom in quality healthcare providers in these cities, along with the proposal for the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan will help connect the tier 2 and tier 3 cities and will ensure that the healthcare services are accessible to all regions equally.
The increase in the GDP proportion for healthcare was much needed and is rightly implemented. All these announcements made today have come as a ray of hope for the healthcare sector. I am sure that the country is moving towards a stronger, more accessible and quality healthcare infrastructure.
*This story is published by VOH team.*
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