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137% hike in health & wellness budget, new PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat scheme announced

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announces Rs 2,23,846 crore allocation for health, urban sanitation, water supply & air pollution mitigation in Budget 2021.

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Monday announced a 137 per cent hike in the health and wellness budget, including a five-year plan to ramp up primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, a dedicated allocation for Covid-19 vaccination, as well as allocations for urban sanitation, liquid waste management water supply, mitigation of air pollution and nutrition.

Sitharaman said: “I have provided Rs 35,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccine in this year 2021-22… I am committed to provide further funds if required. So the Budget outlay for health and well-being is Rs 2,23,846 crore in 2021-22, as against only Rs 94,452 crore (in 2020-21) and it marks an increase of 137 per cent.”

The finance minister added that while the investment in health infrastructure has increased substantially, as institutions keep absorbing more funds, the government will commit more. The focus is a three-pronged, holistic approach — including preventive care, curative care, and well-being.

Health and wellness, Sitharaman said, is one of the six pillars of a self-reliant India. The pneumococcal vaccine, a made-in-India product, is currently limited to only five states, but will be rolled out across the country. This will avert more than 50,000 child deaths annually.

Also read: The 5 key numbers to watch in Modi govt’s Budget 2021

PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana

A new centrally sponsored scheme, called Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, meant to strengthen the health system, will be launched with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore over six years. This will be in addition to the National Health Mission.

The main interventions under the new scheme are support for over 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres, setting up integrated public health labs in all districts and 3,382 block public health units in 11 states, establishing critical care, hospital blocks in 602 districts and 12 central institutions, strengthening the National Centre for Disease Control, its five regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units. In addition, there will be expansion of the integrated health information portal to all states and UTs to connect all public health labs, operationalisation of 17 new public health units and strengthening of existing public health units at points of entry i.e. at 32 airports, 11 seaports and 7 land crossings. Fifteen health emergency operation centres and two mobile hospitals will also be set up, as will a national institution for One Health — a regional research platform for the WHO south-east Asia region office — apart from nine bio-safety ‘level 3’ labs and four regional National Institutes of Virology.

Also read: Tax slab changes, govt spending, reform agenda — your guide to read Budget 2021


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