Opinion

Booster dose for healthcare

PREETHA REDDY | Updated on November 14, 2017

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It was reassuring to hear the Budget confirming the Government's commitment to economic growth with greater inclusion.

By that token, it is distressing that India has the lowest health indicators amongst BRIC nations.

Due to the acute shortage of hospital beds, we also have the lowest rates of institutional delivery. And the primary obstacle inhibiting the growth of healthcare infrastructure in tier 2 and 3 towns and rural India has been access to funds, primarily due to the inadequate return on investments.

Thus, a very positive announcement in the Budget was the increase of the investment-linked tax incentive (under sec 35AD) by way of deduction of 150 per cent of capital expenditure for building and operating a new hospital with over 100 beds, from the earlier 100 per cent, which will prove to be a catalyst for capacity creation.

An increase in hospital beds will address a pressing need in the nation and also help us in manage the burgeoning disease burden.

Furthermore, the additional Rs 5,000 being exempt for preventive health check-ups is a move in the right direction to encourage an attitude of preventive healthcare.



Skill-building

A relatively unknown fact is that the healthcare sector employs close to five million people, and despite that is still faced with a huge shortfall of manpower.

As announced in the Budget, a scale-up of skill building initiatives could help immensely in addressing this acute need for skilled workforce in healthcare.

Beyond the need to double its doctors, India needs to triple its number of nurses and quadruple the allied health professionals. The most comforting was an assurance that clean drinking water will become more accessible to all. Healthcare is a pre-requisite for economic progress, and not a consequence.

(The author is Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals.)

Published on March 16, 2012

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