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Healthcare and pharma: Not a health friendly budget

PB Jayakumar     February 29, 2016

Not a health friendly budget as it misses industry expectations and may result in Prime Minister Narendra Modi failing in his pharma & health exam paper.

Fails to offer special incentives to boost private healthcare, research and development of drugs and incentives to boost drug making in India….

The National Dialysis Service Programme to be carried out in district hospitals in a PPP mode-

Imported dialysis equipment will be exempted from customs duty, fully or partially and to reduce excise and other taxes for these equipment.

Impact: "Good news for renal patients and emerging nephro chains like DaVita NephroLife, Mumbai based Apex Kidney Care. NephroPlus, NU hospitals etc.
"The current dialysis market size in India is about $350 million and it is growing at about 20-25 per cent annually. About 3,50,000 people in India reach end-stage kidney disease every year. Various estimates say about 20 million people in the country have chronic kidney diseases and of this, about 6-8 million are on dialysis.

"The budget fails to address the key issue of a population of over a billion people, as the country has only less than 1000 nephrologists. In Mumbai, there are only 50 machines attached with public hospitals and another 1200 machines with private hospitals and charity organizations, as against a requirement of about 15,000 machines.

Health Insurance

A new Health Protection Scheme to give a health insurance cover of Rs.One lakh per household, in addition to the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana which gives a cover of Rs.30,000 for select diseases and treatments.

Not much to cheer and is just another social security scheme announcement for the poor. There were expectations that the Union budget may announce a single digital card that will offer benefits under various schemes including the Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana, the Atal Pension Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, besides the  old age pension schemes. It could have impacted about 40 crore unorganised workers in the country, accounting for nearly 89% of the total workforce.  

Opening of 3,000 Jan Aushadhi medical  stores in 2016-17

Impact: No fund allocations made. Jan Aushadhi scheme was planned in 2008  by the UPA Government to set up public sector supported medical stores where, unbranded quality generic medicines would be sold at lower prices, mainly sourced from public sector drug making companies. According to the website of Jan Aushadhi, which is run by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India under the aegis of Department of Pharmaceuticals, the progress so far is pathetic -just 137 stores across various states.

Upgradation of science and technology research centres

No specifics announced and no new centres announced in the budget.

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