Budget 2020

The Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman delivered a two-hour thirty-three-minute long speech on Budget 2020 today. The speech covered agriculture, climate, industrial sector, education sector, and many other sections.

However, as anticipated the budget presented by Sitharaman had very long, concise and new plans for the Health sector. In total, the health sector got an allocation of Rs 69,000 crores.

Starting from the center’s flagship program, Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY) got an allocation of Rs 6,400 crore, which this year is slightly more than last year.

Launched in the year 2018 the Ayushman Bharat scheme provides insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually. According to the government as on November 25, 2019, as many as 114 million e-cards have been issued under the scheme.

The proposed budget also focussed on water management, and sanitation including solid waste collection, source segregation, and processing. Swachh Bharat got an allocation of 12,300 crores.

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Mission Indradhanush has been extended to cover new diseases and new vaccines. Fit India is part of it, she said. Mission Indradhanush focuses on full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women.

Further, Sitharaman spoke about the shortage of doctors leading to inadequate medical help. She said that there is a shortage of qualified medical doctors— both general practitioners and specialists. To curb this it is proposed to attach a medical college to district hospitals in the tier-II and III cities under the public-private-partnership (PPP) route.

“Viability gap funding window to be set up to cover hospitals, with priority given to aspirational districts that don’t have hospitals impaneled under Ayushman Bharat. The government will open hospitals in tier II and tier III cities covered under aspirational districts scheme, which still do not have an Ayushman-empanelled hospital,” Sitharaman said.

The proposal also included a section focussing on tuberculosis which has been a part of the center’s agenda for many years. Sitharaman said ‘TB Hatega- Desh Bachega’, setting the target of 2025 to completely eliminate the disease.

Further, Rs 35,600 crore was proposed for a nutrition-related plan.

Government’s Jan Aushadhi Kendra Scheme has also been proposed which is supposed to offer 2000 medicines and 300 surgical facilities in all districts by 2024.

Nirmala Sitharaman also said that 6 lakh Anganwadi workers have been equipped with smartphones to upload the nutrition status which includes 10 crore households.

Further, an introduction of nominal health cess on import of medical equipment has also been proposed to encourage the domestic industry and generate resources for health services.

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