Govt sets target to increase country’s Health budget to 2.5 per cent of GDP, says Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya

Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya has said that the target of setting up 1.50 lakh Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres ( AB- HWC) will become functional by December this year. Replying to a debate over a private member legislation namely the Right to Health Bill 2021 in the Rajya Sabha today, Dr Mandaviya said that out of the total target of setting up 1.50 lakh such Centres, one lakh 22 thousand are now functional.

He said, at these Health and Wellness Centres, screening of 13 non-communicable diseases will be conducted in addition to three types of cancers including breast and oral cancer. Dr Mandaviya also highlighted various measures taken for strengthening the health infrastructure and making healthcare affordable and accessible.

The Health Minister said that the government has set a target to increase the Health budget of the country up to 2.5 per cent of the country’s GDP which is currently at 1.9 per cent. Giving details about the allocations made in the Health budget, he said, during 2014 the total health budget was to the tune of 33 thousand crore rupees which was increased continuously and now it has reached 83 thousand crore rupees in 2022-23. He said, at present there are 622 medical colleges in the country and the number of undergraduate seats has increased from 51 thousand to one lakh within seven to eight years. Dr Mandaviya informed that doctor population ratio has also improved and now it is at 1 : 800.

He also talked about COVID vaccination drive and said that it was rolled out on the 16th of January last year and within nine month first 100 crore vaccine doses were administered and in 18 months, this number reached 200 crore.

The Right to Health Bill 2021 was moved by RJD member Prof. Manoj Kumar Jha which aims to provide for health as a fundamental right to all citizens and to ensure equitable access and maintenance of a standard of physical and mental health.

After completing his reply, the Health Minister requested Mr Jha to withdraw the Bill but due to the paucity of time it was not taken up for consideration.

Earlier participating in the discussion, Sandosh Kumar of CPI (M) said, the medical expenditure is too high in the country and there is a need to make health a fundamental right. He also stressed on the need to increase the expenditure on the health sector and revisit the policy on health. Anil Agrawal of BJP highlighted Central Government measures for providing better health care. He emphasised on the need to strengthen the health infrastructure in the country. Jawhar Sircar of TMC supported the Bill while highlighting the health facilities condition in the country.

Earlier, several Private Members’ Bills were introduced in the House. They include the Epidemic Diseases (Prevention, Preparedness and Management) Bill 2021, the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Repeal Bill, 2022, the Reserve Bank of India (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Press Council (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Minimum Support Price Guarantee Bill, 2022.

Later the House took up special mention business under which members raised several issues. After that the Chair adjourned the House for the day.