Saturday, June 23, 2018

Healthcare industry hails budget

Posted On : July 11,2014

Stakeholders of the healthcare sector Thursday hailed the union budget for its stress on quality healthcare and increase in the excise duty on tobacco and tobacco products.

"Provisions in this year's budget for healthcare are indicative of the focus on ensuring that quality healthcare reaches every level of the demographic pyramid," said Amit Mookim, partner and head of healthcare practice of KPMG.

"Provisions like AIIMS in all states, 12 more medical colleges and 15 Model Rural Health Research Centres also aim to address the infrastructure deficit and bridge the rural-urban disparity," he said.

However, Mookim said the healthcare sector should have been provided with an industry status with incentives for domestic manufacturing of medical devices and consumables.

There has been an increased allocation of 27 percent for the healthcare sector in the union budget.

Dr B.C. Roy, national vice president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said: "I am really happy with the budget as per the healthcare sector is concerned."

"Better sanitation, with the Swastha Bharat Abhiyan campaign will help check communicable diseases. Importantly, increase in prices of pan masala, tobacco and soft drinks will help decrease the incidence of diseases caused by consumption of these products," added Dr Roy.

The government's decision to increase excise duty on cigarettes in the range of 11 to 72 percent is the most the healthcare industry is the happiest.

"Increasing taxes means a win-win for the state, it increases revenue, reduces consumption and saves lives, reduces state burden of treatment costs," said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, executive director of the Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI).

"It is globally accepted that 'triple the taxes, double the revenue, halve consumption'."

"When tobacco prices go up, smoking and other tobacco uses go down, especially among vulnerable groups such as youth, pregnant women and low-income smokers."

The Free Drugs Service and Free Diagnosis Service are being seen as good steps in achieving health for all.

"It is heartening to note that the budget has addressed key public health issues that require utmost attention. The Free Drugs Service and Free Diagnosis Service will go a long way in achieving health for all, a critical prerequisite of a prosperous nation,"
said Naresh Kapoor, Director for Finance and Strategy at BLK Super Speciality Hospital.

Mr. Gopi Gopalakrishnan, President & Founder, World Health Partners said,
"This is a very progressive budget. It lays stress on using communications technology to deliver various services to the citizens. I believe this will help further the growth of sectors like healthcare and help them reach the under-served areas of the country. The Finance Minister has announced a Digital India program to bridge the digital divide and ensure broadband connectivity at the village level and improved access to services through IT-enabled platforms. This is a commendable initiative that will strengthen governance and delivery of healthcare services in rural hinterlands. The launch of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme to improve the delivery of welfare services to women is very encouraging. I believe that fixing fundamental issues in society will help us tackler larger problems."

Ms. Zahabiya Khorakiwala, Managing Director, Wockhardt Hospitals Ltd. said, "This year’s budget has been a deviation from the trend, where healthcare has been mentioned quite often, and in a positive framework.  The Finance minister, although walking a tight rope on the fiscal front, has initiated a substantial amount of measures which directly or indirectly affect the healthcare of the citizen."

"For healthcare delivery industry, the setting up of 12 more medical colleges, and 4 AIIMS would be a welcome move as it would augment the very critical medical manpower in the country which is in very short supply. REIT’s entry in the real estate space may indirectly ease the woes of hospital industry, and e-visas would be a hassle-free tool for medical value travel. While saying this, there have not been mentions of any SOPs for the healthcare industry, or under National health Assurance Mission. Government could also have promoted health insurance coverage for citizens by bringing it in the negative list for Service Tax. We still have to analyse if the healthcare spends suggested in this budget have achieved a desirable level of percentage of GDP. The healthcare industry would also have been overjoyed, if it was included in the list of Infrastructure sector, as it would have then availed several pushes designed in this budget," added Ms Khorakiwala.

Ms Devika Chadha, Vice President - Operations, Salaam Bombay Foundation said,
"Our expectations from the Union Budget were quite high. The tax raise comes as a trivial effort as compared to the magnitude of the problem. We, though, appreciate Modi’s commitment towards a forming healthier and stronger India. The massive rise in taxes would distant the young generation, which falls for tobacco consumption due to contemporary influences, from the life threatening substance. Tobacco products like gutkha and paan masala are already banned in Maharashtra and tax raise on cigarettes would be instrumental in wiping the tambaku menace from the state to a large extent. The decision, to an extent, has also been a morale booster for activists who continue crusading against tobacco consumption."

Utkarsh Palnitkar, Partner, Head of Advisory, Head - Life Sciences, KPMG in India said, “The issues around the pharmaceuticals sector are more policy related, with tax measures forming only part of the solution. While the support of the Government toward macro issues like skill development and  bridging the infrastructure gap are fairly commendable, issues directly related to the pharma industry were fleetingly mentioned. The promise of central assistance to strengthen drug laboratories and research should assist research in the country. However, the clarity around the role of the CDSCO and CDRI and the current regulatory ambiguities were much desired , today. Initiatives around developing clusters for biotech and promoting global partnerships to strengthen generic engineering and biotech will also help the biotech sector in the country.   The Free Drug Service and Free Diagnosis Service were mentioned as priority were not substantiated enough from a procurement perspective, leaving behind ambiguity around execution. In a nutshell, the budget did leave much to be desired in terms of answering the many questions that all the pharma industry stakeholders have in mind.”

Mr. Amol Naikawadi Joint Managing Director, Indus Health Plus says, “Overall, the health market players may not be too happy since there aren’t any major reforms announced for the entire health industry. We have again failed to make government realize that it is importance to address the increasing health issues. Various non-communicable and communicable diseases are taking toll which affects the nation’s health and overall growth.”

Dr. Rita Bakshi , Fertility Expert  Gynecologist & Chairperson , International Fertility Center said , “We are quite happy with the Union Budget of 2014 -2015. The major steps taken by the government for healthcare sector are provision of 12 new government hospitals, Rs.3650 Crore allotted for Safe Drinking Water but the priority of Rs 200 crore  given by the government to the statue of Vallabbhai patel is not acceptable instead of that government could have allotted more money on infant mortality,  and other healthcare issues. The government has also introduced e – visa facility which can help to boost the medical tourism in India."