India’s overall spending on health sector ‘low’, says Niti Aayog member

New Delhi, Nov 19 (PTI): India’s overall spending on the health sector is “low” and the situation must be “corrected”, Niti Aayog Member (Health) V K Paul said on Thursday.

Emphasising that there is a need to request both the union and state governments to enhance spending on health, he said the COVID-19 experience will justify an increase in expenditure on health sector.

“India’s overall spending on the health sector is low. It has been coming from constrained resources… many many competing priorities. It is low and must be corrected,” he said while addressing a virtual event organised by industry body CII.

In 2018-19, India’s spending on health sector was 1.5 per cent of GDP, somewhat an improvement over the last decade, Paul said.

While noting that “definitely expenditure of 1.5 per cent of GDPon health is not acceptable, not good”, he pointed out that in European countries, spending on the health sectoris 7-8 per cent of GDP.

Citing the National Health Mission (NHM) document, Paul said India’s expenditure on the health sector should be to the tune of 3 per cent by 2025.

“We all need to request both the union and state governments’ to enhance the expenditure on health,” he said, adding that post COVID-19, there will be a way to increase healthcare sector infrastructure.

Paul is also a key official in coordinating the central government’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Further, Paulsaid thatthe government may target the primary healthcare sectorand the private sector should focus on the secondary and tertiary healthcare sector.

“In secondary and tertiary healthcare, there is a huge scope for expansion,” he noted.

In the last six years, Paul said there was a 45 per cent increase in the number of medical colleges., a 48 per cent increase in the number of under graduate medical seats and a 79 per cent increase in post graduate medical seats.

As many as 114 new government hospitals will come up in the next three years, he added.