The Union budget 2021 claimed a 137 percent increase in health and well being. However, the Union health budget still remains at about 0.34% of GDP – a slight increase from 0.31% last year’s budget estimate.
The biggest scheme introduced in the past few years is the Ayushman Bharat scheme. In February 2020, the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman slashed the budget from Rs 6,400 crore to Rs 3,314 crore for the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. Also known as Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY), this scheme was rolled out to cover a population of about 50 crores. However, this scheme though has been underutilised and has not made health more accessible to people.
With the unprecedented COVID-19 situation globally, India is also struggling with health care workers like doctors, nurses and other staff. And, it’s important to understand the economic approach to handling the inequalities in the healthcare sector in the country.
To know more about the role of health economics in the country and health budgeting, Kunika Balhotra, Suno India’s Research and communications Officer spoke to Dipa Sinha.
Dipa is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the School of Liberal Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD). Before joining AUD, she worked with the Office of Commissioners to the Supreme Court, Centre for Equity Studies and Public Health Research Network, and is actively involved with the Right to Food Campaign.