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Govt move to increase investments in public health a welcome move: Industry

Business Finance

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Healthcare sector on Sunday welcomed the government's decision to ramp up infrastructure and undertaking structural reforms, but said the industry also needs support in view of the headwinds it faced due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcements by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamanto increase investment in public health, ramping up infrastructure at grassroot level and getting future ready for COVID like public health crises are strategic reforms, apex industry body NATHEALTH said.

"Healthcare industry welcomes these strategic reforms and looks forward to working with Government on expanding India's healthcare footprint while growing employment through private sector," NATHEALTH President Sudarshan Ballal said.

In view of the tremendous headwinds faced by the industry, the industry body looks forward to continuously engaging with central and state government for short-term support to sustain and maintain resilience in the face of COVID, he added.

"We acknowledge and appreciate the structural measures undertaken by the Government on COVID-19 management and placing public health investment as a priority," NATHEALTH Senior Vice-President Preetha Reddy said.

There is a need for an overall stimulus package to revive the Indian healthcare industry as the sector generates one of the largest number of jobs and many MSMEs are supported by it, she added.

"Working capital boost is required urgently for hospitals and nursing homes to avoid sectoral crisis and job loss. We also request taxation support which will scale up employment generation while keeping healthcare service delivery affordable," Reddy said.

While stating that plan to increase public expenditure on healthcare and ramp up health and wellness centres in remote areas will certainly help the needy in availing health services, since India's spend on healthcare is only 1.3 per cent of its GDP and needs severe bolstering,Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI) said that self reliance in MedTech sector will need more measures.

"In our opinion, Aatma Nirbharta (self- reliance) in medical technology sector would be achieved, when we can make competitive products in India, when people of India can be treated in India without having to travel abroad and spending precious foreign exchange...,"MTaI Chairman and DGPavan Choudary said.

It will be achieved when the tertiary care facilities will expand in the government sector too, when "R&D flourishes to handle our problems as well as respond to global opportunities, when every Indian healthcare workers gets trained as well as his best global counterpart," he added.

Among other measures, MTaI requested the government to commit a definitive package on developing healthcare infrastructure and procurement and to increase fiscal spend to 2 per cent of GDP in 2020-21 and 3 per cent by 2021-22.

Aster DM Healthcare Founder Chairman & MDAzad Moopen said that at least 5 per cent of the total stimulus package amounting to Rs 1 lakh crore should be earmarked for the healthcare sector.

"This is very important in a situation where healthcare is the epicenter of this pandemic and strengthening the private sector which accounts for 70 per cent of the healthcare in the country is important. If this is being not done, there is a possibility of many of the establishments, especially the small hospitals and unorganised sector succumbing to the effect of pandemic," he added.

Apollo Telehealth CEOVikram Thaploo said:"The central government's decision to increase expenditure on public health, bringing us one step closer to our stated goal of spending 2.5 per cent of our GDP on health, is long overdue".

Paras healthcare COOShankar Narang said: "To tackle this crisis as also to be able to achieve our vision of universal healthcare, we need a leap in public spending on health which includes spending on biomedical research. Private sector is playing an important role in helping the govt tackle this crisis".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 17 2020. 21:07 IST