Mumbai:  The government has pledged itself to a gigantic task in the healthcare sector covering little less than half of the country’s population, approximately 50 crore (500 million) people. The National Healthcare Protection Scheme outlines providing up to Rs 5 lakh cover per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation. This measure has come for a special appreciation from doctors community.

Dr Ramen Goel, Senior Bariatric and Metabolic Surgeon & Director, Center of  Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, Wockhardt Hospitals said, “As a doctor, I am glad that the healthcare sector today took the centre stage of the budget with the finance minister announcing the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme”.

It is very important and significant that the government, under Ayushman Bharat programme, unfolded its two-way approach towards healthcare. Besides the healthcare cover, 1.5 lakh health wellness centres will be set up, one each in every major tehsil, to provide healthcare facilities closer to home. Rs 1200 crore is being provided for setting up these centres. In addition to that, 24 new government medical colleges will be opened ensuring that every three Lok Sabha constituencies will have at least one medical college. This is a strong movement towards being a developed nation.

Dr Ramakanta Panda, Worlds leading Cardio-Vascular-Thoracic Surgeon & Vice Chairman, Asian Heart Institute said, “Budget 2018 has laid much-needed emphasis to the healthcare sector with emphasis on the elderly and underprivileged. The biggest declaration by the Hon’ble Finance Minister was the health protection scheme where 10 crore poor families – for secondary and tertiary treatment – will get 5 lakhs per family. This announcement will steer the move towards Universal Healthcare in India.” 

It is encouraging to note that the Government has allowed Senior Citizens to claims benefits of Rs 50,000 as part of medical insurance – earlier this was Rs 30,000.

Appreciating the budget Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility said, Clearly,  this is a pro-people and a pro-poor budget. For the first time, Universal Health Care has got the impetus it needs. I am quite happy with the government’s plan to introduce 24 new medical colleges. That is the only way to address the glaring lack of talent in the industry. The 1.5 lakh centres which will provide free essential drugs and diagnosis is a welcome move and a step towards boosting the Government’s National Health Policy.  By focussing on maternal & child health, the Govt aims to focus on resource prioritisation – which is the key to effectively utilising the available budgets for primary health care. Focussing on critical elements of reproductive health care could  reduce large expenses incurred later in life.”