Government says no shortage of funds in health sector

The National Health Policy 2017 proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP in a time bound manner by 2025.

The government faces a challenge in ensuring that  states are able to spend the money allocated to them for the health sector in a time-bound manner.
The government faces a challenge in ensuring that states are able to spend the money allocated to them for the health sector in a time-bound manner.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Contrary to popular belief, the health sector in India does not face shortage of funds.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Friday, minister of state (health) Anupriya Patel stated that India aims at increasing the public health spend to 2.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

“The National Health Policy 2017 proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP in a time bound manner by 2025,” Patel said.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had increased the budget allocation for the health sector by almost 27% in the current Union Budget.

From Rs 37061.55 crore in 2016-17, the budget estimate for 2017-18 was increased to Rs 47352.51 crore (net).

The centre had cleared the much-awaited National Health Policy 2017 in March this year, after it had been in cold storage for about two years. In September 2016, the Supreme Court of India had directed the government to finalise the policy.

While the target is to increase the health spend from a little over 1% to 2.5%, the real challenge for the government lies in ensuring that states are able to spend the money allocated to them in a time-bound manner.

According to the Economic Survey 2016-17, expenditure by both central and state government on health as percentage of GDP for last three years saw a jump from 1.1% in the year 2014-15 and 1.3% in 2015-16 to 1.4% in 2016-17.

“Our rate of spending has seen an improvement,” said Union health minister JP Nadda.

The ministry had managed to spend more than 75% of 2016-17 budget money till the beginning of this year.
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