While presenting the union budget 2021- 2022 Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India will spend an estimated ₹ 2.23 lakh crore on public health expenditure for the financial year 2021-2022 – an increase of 137 percent against budgeted expenditure from the previous year.
“Investment in health infrastructure in this budget has increased substantially… Three areas – preventive health, curative health, and well-being to be strengthened (and). budget outlay for health and well-being is ₹ 2,23 lakh crore in 2021-22 as against BE of ₹ 94,452 crores,” Ms. Sitharaman said, responding to calls from medical and financial experts who have said that improving healthcare infrastructure and delivery could be key to reviving economic growth.
The massive increase comes as the nation looks to recover from the Covid pandemic, and includes spending of ₹ 64,180 crore (over six years) under the Pradhan Mantri Aaatmanirbhar Swasthya scheme that aims to improve primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare in the country.
It also includes expenditure of ₹ 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccines, with further funds to be provided if required. Ms Sitharaman also said that two new vaccines would be launched.
The Finance Minister also said the National Centre of Disease Control would be strengthened with new branches and units, and support for more than 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health centres. Four new National Institutes of Virology will also be set up, she said, adding that critical healthcare facilities would be established in 62 districts.