Increase budget allocation on health to 2.5 pc of GDP: NATHEALTH

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NATHEALTH-Healthcare Federation of India on Tuesday asked the government to increase budget allocation on health to 2.5 per cent of GDP while also calling for a restructuring of the healthcare GST framework.

In its pre-Budget recommendations, NATHEALTH underlined the need for the government to embark on transformative measures that prioritise bolstering healthcare infrastructure and making strategic investments to overcome supply side constraints.

“India’s public healthcare spending remains low, at only around 1.6-1.8 per cent of GDP. These allocations are insufficient to tackle the magnitude of healthcare challenges,” NATHEALTH said in a statement.

It recommended “increasing budget allocation to 2.5 per cent of GDP to augment the social insurance schemes, boosting healthcare reforms and infrastructure and fast-tracking digital health services across India.”

On the need for rationalisation of GST for the healthcare sector, it said, “Although increased budget allocation has been a longstanding request from the sector, there remains another persistent issue concerning the healthcare credit chain through GST.”

Indirect taxation and lack of input credit for providers poses a significant challenge for the healthcare industry, NATHEALTH said, adding that it “strongly recommends outlining a reform agenda in the Finance Bill aimed at restructuring the healthcare GST framework”.NATHEALTH President Ashutosh Raghuvanshi said, “India’s healthcare demands urgent and strategic reforms. I advocate for increasing our healthcare budget to 2.5 per cent of GDP, rationalising the GST framework, and strengthening our healthcare value chain.”Raghuvanshi, who is also the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fortis Healthcare, further said, “It is crucial to focus on capacity building and training of healthcare professionals to meet the growing demands of our nation. These steps are vital for a robust and responsive healthcare system in India.”

The focus for boosting the value chain should remain on augmenting local capabilities to extend care to the most remote areas, while concurrently emphasising localisation, NATHEALTH said.

Additionally, harmonising global best practices necessitates integrated budget allocations for effective execution as well as safeguards for quality and patient safety, it added.

It also said the government should allocate funds for training and development programmes for doctors, nurses, and allied healthcare workers, putting special emphasis on digital learning stack and smart certification standards.

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