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Health sector gets a big boost

Govt announces an allocation of Rs 6,400 crore for the year 2019-20 for Ayushman Bharat

Health sector gets a big boost

New Delhi: In a major announcement aimed at providing quality and affordable healthcare facilities to all, the government on Friday announced Rs 61,398 crore budgetary allocation for the health sector for 2019-2020 fiscal, with Rs 6,400 crore earmarked for the Centre's ambitious AB-PMJAY health insurance scheme popularly known as Ayushman Bharat programme.

While presenting the interim budget, Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday announced an allocation of Rs 6,400 crore for the year 2019-20 for Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY). The ambitious scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 23 last year.

The health outlay for the upcoming fiscal year is the highest in the last two fiscals and saw a 16 per cent increase over the 2018-2019 allocation which was Rs 52,800 crore.

The scheme aims at providing a cover of Rs 5 lakh per family annually and is aimed at benefitting more than 10 crore poor families across the country.

A total of Rs 250 crore has been allocated for setting up Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres under the National Urban Health Mission to provide comprehensive and quality primary care close to the community, while Rs 1,350.01 crore has been earmarked for setting up health and wellness centres under the National Rural Health Mission.

Under the programme, nearly 1.5 lakh sub-centres and primary health centres will be transformed into health and wellness centres by 2022. These centres would be equipped to provide treatment for diseases such as blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and old age-related illness.

The allocation for the National Health Mission (NHM) for 2019-20 was raised to Rs 31,745 crore from the last budget's allocation of Rs 30,129.61 crore. The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) which features under the NHM saw an allocation of Rs 156 crore, a decline of Rs 1,844 crore.

The government allocated Rs 2,500 crore to its National AIDS and STD Control Programme an increase of Rs 400 crore from last budget's allocation of Rs 2,100 crore.

The budgetary allocation for the AIIMS has been increased to Rs 3,599.65 crore from Rs 3,018 crore in the 2018-2019 fiscal.

Reacting to more budgetary allocation to Ayushman Bharat, DS Rana, the Chairman of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, "The 16.5 per cent increase in funds for Ayushman Bharat is a visionary step. Given the size and magnitude of the scheme, the government should have increased more."

The National Mental Health Programme saw a decline from Rs 50 crore to Rs 40 crore while the budgetary allocation for the National Programme for prevention and control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardio-vascular Disease and Stroke was reduced to Rs 175 crore from Rs 295 crore.

The total budgetary allocation for the tertiary care programmes saw a dip of Rs 200 crore, from Rs 750 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 550 crore in the upcoming fiscal.

The government, in the interim budget, has allocated Rs 64 crore for upgrading and strengthening nursing services, Rs 5 crore for upgrading pharmacy schools and colleges, Rs 800 crore for upgrading district hospitals and state government medical colleges (post-graduate seats).

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