The government has ordered a cut of nearly 20 percent in its 2014/15 healthcare budget due to fiscal strains, putting at risk key disease control initiatives in a country whose public spending on health is already among the lowest in the world, reports Reuters. More than 60 billion rupees, or $948 million, has been slashed from their budget allocation of around $5 billion for the financial year ending on March 31.
India spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on public health, compared to 3 percent in China and 8.3 percent in the United States. The United Nations estimates about one third of the world's 1.2 billion poorest people live in India.
The move reflects the government's struggle to achieve its 2014/15 fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent of GDP.
The retrenchment could also derail an ambitious universal healthcare programme that Modi wants to launch in April. The plan aims to provide all citizens with free drugs and diagnostic treatments, as well as insurance benefits. The cost of that programme over the next four years had been estimated at 1.6 trillion rupees ($25 billion). The health ministry officials had been expecting a jump in their budget for the coming year, in part to pay for this extra cost.
In addition to the healthcare budget, the finance ministry has also ordered a spending cut for India's HIV/AIDS programme by about 30 percent to 13 billion rupees ($205.4 million). India had the third-largest number of people living with HIV in the world at the end of 2013, according to the U.N. AIDS programme, and it accounts for more than half of all AIDS-related deaths in the Asia-Pacific.
The move by the government is a retrograde step. The country should try cordial relationship with neighboring countries so that health and education budget is not compromised at the cost of increasing the defense budget. IMA will peruse the government to roll back.
For the time being at the IMA we will try to bring in a campaign to reduce the disease burden by 25-50% via implementing preventive and swachh bharat swasthya bharat movement.