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Government to increase health expenditure to 2.5 % of GDP

The government decided to increase its total health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of the 12th Plan, from the current 1.4 per cent.

A high-level meeting convened on the directions by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh also decided that the Planning Commission be requested to allocate adequate resources for the health sector to achieve the target. Dr Singh also said for this the Planning Commission could seek cooperation of the states.

The meeting suggested Planning Commission may motivate and incentives states to allocate more funds for the health sector, for which it would work out an appropriate mechanism in consultation with the Health Ministry.

The Prime Minister emphasised the need for increased outlay to health sector during 12th Plan. He said, though funds for the Health sector will not be a constraint, there is a need to create adequate capacity at the Centre and the states to meaningfully absorb the increased outlay.

With the Health Ministry working towards its goal of Universal Health Care, it was also decided that the Ministry may set up a Central Procurement Agency early for providing free medicine for all through public health facilities under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and prepare Standard Treatment Protocols early. AIR correspondent reports, the Cabinet has already approved the setting up of the procurement agency.

The meeting specifically focused on implementation of recommendations of the National Commission for Macroeconomics & Health and the High Level Expert Group on Health set up by Planning Commission and listed various measures, including bringing important bills and legislations, to be implemented soon.

The Health Ministry has also been asked to prepare a clear roadmap to merge all the NRHM schemes to bring them under one umbrella. The meeting has asked the Health Ministry to specifically focus on is strengthening of primary health centres, community health centres and district hospitals to help provide cashless, hassle free out-patient, in-patient and diagnostic care and supply of essential medicines. The meet also decided that Ambulance services will be strengthened to provide access to health services to far off and inaccessible areas.



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