NEW DELHI, 24 Mar: Expressing concern at the wide interstate and intra-state disparity in healthcare infrastructure across the country, a parliamentary panel has flagged that most of the states have not enhanced the share of the health budget to more than eight percent of their total budget in the last five years.
The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in its report tabled in Parliament on Thursday recommended that all the states and union territories
should emulate Delhi and Puducherry and increase the share of health spending in their budgets.
The panel said that the department of health & family welfare should persuade the states to achieve the budgetary health expenditure of eight percent.
“Despite the much emphasised guidelines of the National Health Policy-2017, the states and UTs, barring Delhi and Puducherry, have not enhanced the share of health budget to more than eight percent of the total state budget in the last five years,” the committee highlighted.
It said the states with poor financial resources and inefficient fiscal capacity have a Herculean task ahead to overcome the situation of fragile health infrastructure vis-à-vis the demand of accessible and affordable healthcare facilities.
In order to maximise the benefits of economic, social and human capital, the states must invest in institutionalising a robust healthcare ecosystem that is capable of delivering adequate healthcare services to the masses at the ground level, especially in rural, urban and tribal regions, the panel said.
“The sooner the states realise the difference a resilient and strong health system makes, the better will be the outcome on all social as well as economic indicators,” it added.
The committee further noted that health has always remained an underperforming sector and despite funds allocation, many states are not performing well on several health parameters.
Many states lack the adequate absorption capacity to judiciously manage the funds allocated, it pointed out.
The panel, therefore, recommended that the Centre should “incentivise the states to make a ground-level assessment of the efficacy of the health policies and help them design policies suitable to the needs of the respective regions.”
The Centre must coordinate with the states to maximise the output under the central sector as well as the centrally-sponsored schemes, it noted.
The panel highlighted that robust health policies and judicious allocation of funds under different schemes are fundamental for the optimal performance of the states.
It said healthcare services remain highly fragmented, which further aggravates the problem of high out-of-the-pocket expenditure in the country.
“The committee, accordingly, recommends the health ministry to make efforts in developing a better healthcare financing mechanism and ensuring the delivery of quality healthcare services,” the report said. (PTI)