Pune: Public health experts from the city said that the overall health budget has been slashed by 7.1 per cent this year as compared to last year’s revised estimate. Experts said that the National Health Mission (NHM) allocation by the State will not be sufficient.
An official from PRS legislative, a Delhi-based think-tank which does research on legislation and policies in India, noted that this year, Maharashtra government has allocated Rs 12,188 crore as against Rs 13,133 crore allocation of last year.
The report published by the think tank also mentioned that Maharashtra has allocated four per cent of its total expenditure on health, which is lower than the average expenditure of 18 other states. The State’s allocation for health has remained constant at 4 per cent since 2016-17.
In 2016-2017, the health budget was Rs 9,662 crore which was increased in 2017-2018 at Rs 10,757 crore. The revised budget for 2017-2018 was Rs 13,133 crore, said think-tank officials.
Speaking about this year’s budget allocation, a public health expert from the city, Dr Abhijeet More said that the there has been a reduction in the allocation of around Rs 1,400 crore.
“And the major slashed budget is for NHM. This year, the allocation for NHM is Rs 964 crore. We know that the NHM has various programmes in the State which has addressed malnutrition, maternal mortality, infant mortality and other vital schemes,”More said.
“If the budget is slashed, it will have a very negative impact on those who are associated with these initiatives in the State,” he added.
He further added that despite Central government’s ambitious National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), the overall health budget this year is less.
“The allocation by the Union government for NHPS is also not sufficient. It seems that health is not on the priority of the State as well as Central government,” said More.
Furthermore, for 2017-2018, the government noted that the scope of Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana will be widened and extended and a new scheme Mahatma Phule Jan Arogya Yojana will be started from 2017-18. For this, a sum of Rs 1,316 crore was allocated.
For this financial year, for the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Aarogya Abhiyan, an outlay of Rs 576.05 crore is proposed.
Speaking to Sakal Times, a State health department official, on the condition of anonymity, said that the overall allocation is not up to the mark.
“However, the available funds are sufficient. For 2017-2018 also, the department had received additional funds through supplementary funds and hence, the work was done smoothly.”
“This year also, we are expecting the same,” said the official.