India’s overall spending on health sector ‘low’, says Niti Aayog member

In 2018-19, India’s spending on health sector was 1.5% of GDP.

India’s overall spending on the health sector is “low” and the situation must be “corrected”, Niti Aayog Member (Health) V.K. Paul said on Thursday.

Emphasising that there is a need to request both the union and state governments to enhance spending on health, he said the COVID-19 experience will justify an increase in expenditure on health sector.

“India’s overall spending on the health sector is low. It has been coming from constrained resources… many many competing priorities. It is low and must be corrected,” he said while addressing a virtual event organised by industry body CII.

In 2018-19, India’s spending on health sector was 1.5% of GDP, somewhat an improvement over the last decade, Mr. Paul said.

While noting that “definitely expenditure of 1.5% of GDP on health is not acceptable, not good”, he pointed out that in European countries, spending on the health sector is 7-8% of GDP.

Citing the National Health Mission (NHM) document, Mr. Paul said India’s expenditure on the health sector should be to the tune of 3% by 2025.

“We all need to request both the union and state governments’ to enhance the expenditure on health,” he said, adding that post COVID-19, there will be a way to increase healthcare sector infrastructure.

Mr. Paul is also a key official in coordinating the central government’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Further, Mr. Paul said that the government may target the primary healthcare sector and the private sector should focus on the secondary and tertiary healthcare sector.

“In secondary and tertiary healthcare, there is a huge scope for expansion,” he noted.

In the last six years, Mr. Paul said there was a 45% increase in the number of medical colleges, a 48% increase in the number of under graduate medical seats and a 79% increase in post graduate medical seats.

As many as 114 new government hospitals will come up in the next three years, he added.

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