Sunday, March 19, 2023
HomeHealthGoM pitch to improve health sector — 1-yr tax holiday for private...

GoM pitch to improve health sector — 1-yr tax holiday for private hospitals, yoga in schools

The Group of Ministers on health has also urged the govt to come up with some regulations on population control as creating ‘health infrastructure for a large population is an uphill task’.

Text Size:

New Delhi: Mandatory health insurance, tax holiday for a year to all private hospitals, regulating fee structure in medical colleges and participation in yoga to be part of mark sheets and school report cards — these are some of the many recommendations made by the Group of Ministers (GoM) on health to improve the sector in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The GoM has also emphasised that creating health infrastructure for “an ever increasing population is an uphill task, hence the government may come up with some regulations on population control and some incentive/disincentive based population policy.” 

The suggestions are part of the report titled Converting Adversity into Opportunity to Strengthen Healthcare Infrastructure in post-Covid19 India.

In it, the committee has suggested providing a fiscal stimulus to the healthcare sector and granting it priority status.

“Government may consider a national priority status for the healthcare sector and make it eligible for priority sector lending akin to the agriculture and the textile sectors, with a comprehensive set of measures,” the report states. “Government may examine providing a tax holiday for a year to start with to all private hospitals to boost up their financial position.”

The GoM has further said that the government could consider providing a one-year moratorium on all working capital, interest payments on loans and overdrafts, bringing in liquidity and enabling business continuity.

“Subsidy of salary and contributions towards government funds such as ESIC and PF for the service providers in rural areas, especially the charitable and Not for Profit institutions,” the report has added. “Government may consider short-term interest free loans for rebuilding business, and to ensure smooth Hospital operations without supply-chain disruptions.”

The report has further noted that the pandemic could be used as an opportunity to bolster the sector.

“The current Covid-19 crisis has given an opportunity to have a complete overhaul of the policy imperatives in the health sector in the long run,” it states. “The government funded health insurance system alone may not be sufficient to have a lasting solution to bring efficiency, transparency and effectiveness especially in the primary healthcare scenario.”

The report, accessed by ThePrint, was submitted to the government in October by the GoM headed by AYUSH Minister Shripad Yesso Naik and comprising Union ministers Jitendra Singh, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Rattan Lal Kataria and Debasree Chaudhuri.

Also read: Govt begins internal review of Pfizer and Serum Covid vaccines, focus on safety & quality

Report puts emphasis on AYUSH practices

On general health, the report emphasises that the AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) systems put a lot of emphasis on building physical immunity to tackle mild infections and those should be popularised and used.

“Traditional medical systems like Ayurveda and Homeopathy have many age-old formulations which are useful in immunity building,” it states. “Covid-19 has provided an opportunity to spread the knowledge about it. Internationally also there is slow acceptance of the relevance of these products. Currently there is a spurt in demand for these products like Ashwagandha etc. special thrust needs to be given to spread their utility domestically and internationally, if required suitable branding and endorsement may be done of these products.

“There are various formulations available under AYUSH for boosting immunity. Those should be popularised and used,” it added.

The report further stated that it has become important to use AYUSH intervention as prophylactic and add-on therapy. “The population covered by AYUSH is much higher than that covered by the allopathic system. Health infrastructure signifies the investments and priority accorded to create the infrastructure in public and private sectors,” it states. “In certain diseases like cancer, AYUSH therapy may be used as advantageous complementary therapy to prevent side effects of regular cancer chemotherapy.”

It has also recommended establishment of AYUSH integrated tertiary care hospitals where there is provision for standalone AYUSH treatment facility as well scope for integrated treatment along with conventional medical care. The GoM has also stressed on the need to add AYUSH medicines in the essential medicines list.

The GoM has advocated introducing AYUSH in school curriculum “to sensitize the population at the initial stage”.

“School Health programs may focus on increasing health literacy among children by determining the prakriti and linking it to their ahara, vihara etc,” it notes. “A column in the Mark Sheet/Report Card regarding health and participation in yoga may be introduced for bringing seriousness among children regarding health.”

The report also called on the I&B ministry to explore the feasibility of starting a dedicated TV channel for health or AYUSH.

“This channel may become a platform for dissemination of useful information on Health and AYUSH activities. Also, the new channels catering to the knowledge and awareness sector may be asked to include slots on health knowledge dissemination,” the report stated.

Other recommendations

Among other recommendations, the report said there is a need for making health a concurrent subject in the Constitution “for proper implementation and monitoring of various schemes of the central government”.

It also states that prescription by doctors should be in capital letters and writing of salt name of medicine instead of brand name may be made mandatory under PMJAY.

“Such drugs are available in Jan Aushadhi Kendras. The pharmaceutical companies to be taken on board to streamline the drug prices through the systemic introduction of generic medicines in all fields,” it said.

It has also suggested that to enforce availability of generic medicines, digitisation of prescription should be done.

“The solution lies in digitisation of prescription i.e. making all prescriptions possible on computer/ IT based platforms in all SHCs (sub-health centres), PHCs (primary health centres), CHCs (community health centres), Medical Colleges etc like being done in CGHS,” the report states. “A doctor can prescribe only the medicines fed into the system and cannot add any additional medicines. There should be adequate awareness amongst the general public that ‘no handwritten prescription is allowed and it should not be entertained at all in this PHC/ CHC’.”

Also read: Signing up for Modi govt’s Digital Health Mission voluntary, says project chief


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular