Budget 2017: After Health Minister’s warning, health budget likely to be up

 

BUDGET 2017 – India’s health ministry is likely to see a substantial increase in funding, after it warned that its programmes were short of cash and sought more than $1.2 billion in additional money, according to government officials and documents seen by Reuters.

The final numbers could change when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the budget for fiscal 2017-18 on Wednesday. But one official familiar with the numbers said the health ministry is expected to get a $1.5 billion, or 27 per cent, increase in funding to around $7 billion.

The health and finance ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

An increase in the budget allocation, if finalised, would signal an acknowledgement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration that the country needs to ramp up spending on the sector.

Successive administrations have faced criticism from public health advocates for spending only around 1 per cent of India’s gross domestic product on public health, less in percentage terms than countries like Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.

More than a million Indian children die every year before reaching the age of five. Hundreds of millions of poor people rely on India’s public health programmes which provide basic services like vaccinations, disease prevention and free drugs. READ MORE

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