New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) India's health allocation has been hiked by 20 percent with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday announcing Rs.26,760 crore (Rs.267 million/$5.9 million) for the sector with special focus on research, insurance cover for marginal workers and medical education.
'For health, I propose to step up the plan allocations in 2011-12 by 20 percent to Rs.26,760 crore,' Mukherjee said while presenting his third budget.
He also said the Rashtriya Swasthya Beema Yojana has 'emerged as an effective instrument for providing health cover to marginal workers'.
'It is now being extended to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) beneficiaries and others. In 2011-12, I propose to further extend this scheme to cover unorganised sector workers in hazardous mining and associated industries like slate and slate pencil, dolomite, mica and asbestos,' he added.
Aiming to fill the human resource gap, the highest allocation of Rs.2,738 crore has been given to medical education, training and research. According to the Planning Commission, India faces a shortage of about 600,000 doctors, one million nurses, 200,000 dental surgeons and a large number of paramedical staff.
Expenditure on public health has however seen a dip in the budget allocation. In the last budget, the area got the maximum focus with Rs.2,536 crore allocated to tackle vector control diseases, mental health, TB, blindness and leprosy. This has come down to Rs.1,906 crore in this budget.
The budget allocation for the government's flagship programme National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), launched in 2005, has risen slightly -- from Rs.13,463 last year to Rs.16,056 crore in this budget.
The programme was launched with the aim of improving availability and access to quality healthcare for people living in remote areas. The main focus is on 18 states that have weak public health infrastructure - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Orissa, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.