Friday, April 1, 2016

Public Health Policies

The Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs and Information and Broadcasitng, Shri Arun Jaitley has announced a New Health Protection Scheme in the Budget 2016-17. In his Budget address in the Parliament today, the Finance Minister expressed concern that a serious illness of family member(s) causes severe stress on the financial condition of poor and economically weak families, shaking the foundation of their economic security. In order to help such families, the Government will launch a new health protection scheme which will provide health cover up-to rupees one lakh per family, the Finance Minister said. For Senior citizens of the age 60 years and above belonging to this category, an additional top-up package up to Rs.30,000 will be provided. 

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley stated that making quality medicines available at affordable prices has been a key challenge. “We will reinvigorate the supply of generic drugs. 3,000 stores under Prime Minister’s Jan Aushadhi Yojana will be opened during 2016-17”, the Minister added. 

About 2.2 lakh new patients of End Stage Renal Disease get added in India every year resulting in additional demand for 3.4 Crore dialysis sessions. With approximately 4,950 dialysis centres in India, largely in the private sector and concentrated in the major towns, the demand is only half met. Every dialysis session costs about Rs.2,000 – an annual expenditure of more than Rs. 3 lakh. Besides, most families have to undertake frequent trips, often over long distances, to access dialysis services, incurring heavy travel costs and loss of wages. 

To address this situation, Shri Arun Jaitley proposed to start a ‘National Dialysis Services Programme’. Funds will be made available through PPP Mode under the National Health Mission, to provide dialysis services in all district hospitals. To reduce the cost, the Finance Minister proposed to exempt certain parts of dialysis equipment from basic customs duty, excise/CVD and SAD. 

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