Even as the Economic survey – the government’s report card on the economy – highlighted that India effectively managed the spread of the Covid 19 pandemic, it said that the country must take steps to improve healthcare accessibility and affordability for the future.
According to sources, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to go in for a substantial increase in expenditure on healthcare when she presents the Union Budget on Monday. She is expected to outline various measures aimed at strengthening public and private healthcare.
It said that the recent Covid 19 pandemic has put the focus on the criticality of healthcare, “whereby a healthcare crisis transformed into an economic and social crisis.”
“Through this year, as India bravely fought the global pandemic, it charted its own unique trajectory – showing remarkable resilience, be it fighting the virus or ensuring economic recovery. This resilience is driven by the strength of our systems that enforced the graded public health measures, ramped up the health response, ensured free food grains to 80 crore people and gave momentum to the economic recovery,” the survey noted.
The survey said the country’s healthcare policy must continue to focus on the long-term priorities in the medicine sector and measures must be put in place to enable India respond to pandemics. The survey by the finance ministry said that health infrastructure must be agile to be able to handle any medical emergency of this scale.
“For instance, every hospital may be equipped so that at least one ward in the hospital can be quickly modified to respond to a national health emergency while caring for the normal diseases in usual times,” it prescribed.