Millennium Post

Increased Health Spending, Labs In Every District Block, Announces Centre

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said the government will increase investment in public health, focusing on grass-root level institutions like infectious disease centres in every district and diagnostic labs in every block.

"We should see the opportunity in this crisis. The public expenditure on health will be increased. Investment at grass root levels will be ramped up for health and wellness centres, both in rural and urban areas," she said, announcing steps as part of the government's COVID-19 economic package.

"All districts will have an Infectious Disease Hospital Blocks, Public health labs will be set up in every block (not just in district), to bridge inadequacy of lab network in rural areas," Ms Sitharaman said.

"The Prime Minister has said that we need to be ready and self-reliant, in the face of challenges posed by any pandemic such as COVID-19. Hence, there is a big emphasis on setting up hospitals and labs, with both public and private funding," the Finance Minister added.

The government also announced steps to prepare the country for any future pandemic.

All districts will have infectious diseases hospital blocks. Lab and surveillance networks will be strengthened, Ms Sitharaman said.

"This or any pandemic that pose a challenge we need to be prepared. There will be an emphasis on hospitals and labs - both privately and publicly funded," she said.

The government will also encourage research and implement a National Digital Health Blueprint.

Nirmala Sitharaman has been announcing details of the government's Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus programme to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic over the last five days.

A majority of the measures announced have been all about liquidity measures with negligible extra budget spending.

The government has announced a variety of steps for small businesses, street vendors, farmers and poor migrants, but they have largely been either credit guarantee schemes or new fund creations to be shouldered by banks and financial institutions.

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