Need to step up funding for health sector, bring equity in delivery of services: Harsh Vardhan

Funding for the healthcare sector needs to be stepped up greatly and it has to be ensured that there is equity in the delivery of healthcare, he said.Funding for the healthcare sector needs to be stepped up greatly and it has to be ensured that there is equity in the delivery of healthcare, he said.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday underlined the need to step up funding for the health sector and bring in equity in delivery of healthcare.

He was addressing the inaugural session of TechBharat 2021.

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A radical improvement in government facilities for the poor rather than only glitzy hospitals for the well-heeled along with the recent moves to lower prices of essential drugs and health equipment, are steps in the right direction, a statement quoted the minister as saying at the event.

Funding for the healthcare sector needs to be stepped up greatly and it has to be ensured that there is equity in the delivery of healthcare, he said.

According to a statement by the health ministry, Laghu Udyog Bharati and IMS Foundation organised the second edition of the TechBharat conclave, bringing together stakeholders from health-tech and edu-tech sectors on a virtual platform.

Techbharat is facilitating interactions and deliberations between thousands of domestic and global participants, including policy makers, government representatives, industry members, investors and start-ups to nurture resourceful partnerships and boost growth in the sectors, it said.

Reiterating the government’s commitment towards health and wellbeing of the citizens, Vardhan highlighted the “highest ever funding for the health sector” in the Union Budget 2021-22.

The massive increase of 137 per cent in budgetary allocation for the sector will not only help strengthen our healthcare infrastructure, but also focus on areas of preventive health and holistic well-being, he said.

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The total sum allocated to the sector of more than Rs 2.2 lakh crore will be of immense help to the country at this critical juncture in ensuring healthier lives of our citizens while at the same time opening up enormous growth and employment opportunities.

“Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government has not only fulfilled its duty by providing relief to the citizens in the unprecedented times of COVID-19, but has also turned the crisis into an opportunity by embarking on a mission to establish an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ to further growth and development,” the health minister asserted.

Emphasising on how the learning from the country’s year-long fight with COVID-19 has helped shape the Union budget, he said health has been identified as one of the key pillars to drive growth in the country.

Expansion of integrated health information portal to all states/UTs to connect all public health labs, operationalisation of new public health units and strengthening of existing ones at multiple points of entry in the country, setting up of 15 health emergency operation centres and two mobile hospitals along with setting up a National Institution for One Health, regional research platform for WHO South East Asia region office, nine Biosafety Level 3 laboratories and four regional institutes on the lines of the National Institute of Virology, are some of the achievements which the country can be proud of, he said.

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The Union minister also advocated an integrated approach towards healthcare to provide holistic services.

Another realisation which has emerged over the years and gathered momentum during the pandemic has been to go back to our roots and opt for a system of medicine that takes care of the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of an individual.

There is a need to incorporate science-backed, research-based benefits of our traditional practices of Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha in the delivery of healthcare, and encourage our medical fraternity to incorporate these as part of a holistic healthcare package, he added.

Talking about other health-related schemes, Vardhan noted that the Pradhan Mantri Aatma Nirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana, with a massive outlay of Rs 64,180 crore over the next six years, will develop capacities of primary, secondary and tertiary care and healthcare systems, develop institutions for detection and cure of new and emerging diseases, and strengthen the existing National Health Mission.

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