The government on Monday proposed a budget outlay of Rs 2,23,846 crore for health and well being in 2021-2022, an increase of 137 per cent from the previous year, with Rs 35,000 crore earmarked for COVID-19 vaccine in the upcoming fiscal.
Presenting the budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman positioned health and well being as one of the 6 crucial pillars of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' (Self-reliant India).
"Health and well being have formed the topmost priority of the Union Government during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. It is the foremost of the six crucial pillars that form foundation of the Union Budget," she said.
"I have provided Rs 35,000 crores for COVID-19 vaccine in BE 2021-22. I am committed to provide further funds if required," she said.
Underscoring the significant importance of health and well being for the growth and development of the country, the budget allocation for the same has been increased to Rs 2,23,846 crore in budget estimate 2021-22 as against this year's budget estimate of Rs 94,452 crore.
In the Union budget, Rs 71268.77 crore has been allocated to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as against Rs 65,011.8 crore allocated in 2020-2021. However, later the budget was revised and increased to 78866 crore because of COVID-19.
The minister also announced that a new centrally sponsored scheme, Prime Minister Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, will be launched with an outlay of about 64,180 crore over 6 years.
This will develop capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary care health systems, strengthen existing national institutions, and create new institutions, to cater to detection and cure of new and emerging diseases.This will be in addition to the National Health Mission.
The main interventions under the scheme include support for 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban health and wellness centres, setting up integrated public health labs in all districts and 3382 block public health units in 11 states, establishing critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts and 12 central institutions, strengthening of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units.
It also includes expansion of integrated health information portal to all states/UTs to connect all public health labs, operationalisation of 17 new public health units and strengthening of 33 existing public health units at Points of Entry, that is at 32 airports, 11 seaports and 7 land crossings, setting up of 15 health emergency operation centres and 2 mobile hospitals; and setting up of a national institution for one Health, a regional research platform for WHO South East Asia Region, 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories and 4 regional National Institutes for Virology.
An allocation of Rs 2663.00 crore has also been made to the Department of Health Research in the 2021-22 budget.
The Ministry of AYUSH has been allocated Rs 2970.30 for the next fiscal as against Rs 2,122.08 crore proposed for 2020-2021 fiscal.
The pneumococcal vaccine, a Made in India product, is limited to only 5 states at present. It will now be rolled out across the country. "It Will avert more than 50,000 child deaths annually," she said.
Investment in health infrastructure in budget 2021-22 has increased substantially, Sitharaman said.
"Progressively, as institutions absorb more, we shall commit more," she said.