ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Union Health Budgets since COVID-19

Lost Opportunity in Reshaping Healthcare

Union budgets lost a crucial opportunity to reshape India’s healthcare after the COVID-19 pandemic. Public expenditure on health is diverging from the National Health Policy targets. The primary sector bears the greater brunt of low budgetary allocation. Lack of course correction will further worsen common people’s health and economic well-being.


After the health crisis created by the pandemic and subsequent realisations of the structural weaknesses of the health systems, a lot of enthusiasm and expectation had formed surrounding the 2021–22 health budget. The country on the one hand required continued COVID-19 mitigation measures as the effect of the pandemic is expected to remain for the next few years. On the other hand, there could not have been a better time to give a major push towards fulfilling India’s renewed pledge to its long-time commitment to significantly increase public expenditure on health (to 2.5% of GDP) and strengthening its weak primary healthcare, as articulated in the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 (GOI 2017). The finance minister, in her opening comments of the budget speech, emphasised that the first of the six pillars of Union Budget 2021–22 is “Health and Well-being” and allocation for it has been increased by a massive 137% in the budget of 2021–22 compared to budget estimates (BE) of 2020–21. An increase in government spending on health of such magnitude was exactly what the doctor ordered for the health sector.

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Published On : 15th Mar, 2024

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