Budget 2014-15 and Health
The Union Budget 2014-15 was presented today and the major highlight of the budget speech regarding the Health sector is presented herewith.
Health and Family Welfare
· To move towards “Health for All”, the two key initiatives i.e. the Free Drug Service and Free Diagnosis Service would be taken up on priority.
· In order to achieve universal access to early quality diagnosis and treatment to TB patients, two National Institutes of Ageing will be set up at AIIMS, New Delhi and Madras Medical College, Chennai. A national level research and referral Institute for higher dental studies would be set up in one of the existing Dental institutions.
· It is a matter of great satisfaction that all the six new AIIMS at Jodhpur, Bhopal, Patna, Rishikesh, Bhubaneswar and Raipur, which are part of Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, have become functional. A plan to set up four more AIIMS like institutions at Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Vidarbha in Maharashtra and Poorvanchal in UP is under consideration. I propose to set aside a sum of Rs.500 crore for this. Presently 58 government medical colleges have been approved. It is also proposed to add 12 more government medical colleges. In addition, dental facilities would also be provided in all the hospitals.
· For the first time, the Central Government will provide central assistance to strengthen the States’ Drug Regulatory and Food Regulatory Systems by creating new drug testing laboratories and strengthening the 31 existing State laboratories.
· In keeping with the Government’s focus on improving affordable healthcare and to augment the transfer of technology for better health care facilities in rural India, fifteen Model Rural Health Research shall be set up in the states, which shall take up research on local health issues concerning rural population.
· A national programme in Mission Mode is urgently required to halt the deteriorating malnutrition situation in India, as present interventions are not adequate. A comprehensive strategy including detailed methodology, costing, time lines and monitorable targets will be put in place within six months.
· Increase the specific excise duty on cigarettes in the range of 11 percent to 72 percent. Similar increases are proposed on cigars, cheroots and cigarillos.
· Likewise, the excise duty is being increased from 12 percent to 16 percent on pan masala, from 50 percent to 55 percent on unmanufactured tobacco and from 60 percent to 70 percent on gutkha and chewing tobacco.
· Levy an additional duty of excise at 5 percent on aerated waters containing added sugar. These are healthy measures and I hope everyone would welcome them from the point of view of human and fiscal health.
· Since taxes should not come in the way of safe disposal of medical and clinical wastes, services provided by common bio-medical waste treatment facilities are being exempted.