The coming Budget
may finally see universal access
, promised by the UPA Government take off provided allocations for medicines are doubled.
The projections of funding indicated in the 12th Five Year Plan document indicates a doubling of allocations for medicines and the doubling of health allocations as a whole towards the end of the Five Year Plan. Sources in the Government say that funds for medicines may be made available this year itself and once that happens the programme would become a reality.
There were apprehensions among civil society that the Universal Access to Medicines that the Government was supposed to launch in October 2012 may not be achieved for lack of funds.
According to Ravi Duggal senior analyst with International Budget Partnership the programme requires at least 0.5% of the GDP as per the estimates made by the High level Expert Group set up by the Planning Commission. That amounts to Rs 30,000 crore or nearly half of the present health budget. The present budget is around 1% of GDP and unless it goes up to 3%, there is no way 0.5% can be given for medicines, he says. He dismisses the promise of doubling of allocation towards the
Five Year Plan. This is promised every Five Year Plan but it seldom happens , he says.
Dr S Selvaraj health economist and advisor to the HLEG however says there is no room for such apprehensions . "The HLEG does not say that we need Rs 30,000 or 0.5% of GDP for medicines immediately. That requirement would come at Stage 2 when private sector would also be brought under the ambit to provide access to medicines,’’ he says.
"The present requirement to roll out the programme is only of 0.1% of GDP that is Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 crore per annum. The 12th Plan has made provision for Rs 25,000 crore for medicines and that would suffice" he says.
"Rs 6000 crore are being spent on medicines currently. This is expected to double in the coming budget if the universal access programme is to take place," says Selvaraj.
The launch planned earlier was delayed mainly because the 12th Plan was delayed.
What High Level Expert Group says:
Government should increase public expenditure on health from the current level of 1.2% of GDP to at least 2.5% by the end of the Twelfth Plan, and to at least 3% of GDP by 2022.
What Plan document says:
The allocations proposed for the Twelfth Plan makes Health a priority and will allow Central Plan expenditure to expand by about 34% per year. Since the expenditure by the States is double the expenditure by the Centre, it is necessary to ensure that the States match the effort. If this is achieved, the total expenditure of the Centre and the States on Core Health would rise to about 1.87% of GDP at the end of the Twelfth Plan period.