While the healthcare sector is one of the topmost priorities of the government after the Covid-19 pandemic, we spoke to a few stakeholders to know about their expectations from the budget 2023, read here for the details.
Ever since the global pandemic Covid-19 gripped the world, there has been an immense emphasis on strengthening healthcare in India and across the world. Many steps are being taken to handle any such health emergencies in future. Technology also changed the face of the sector. Recently, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that digitisation is boosting medical education in India.
Last year during the budget announcement, a tele-mental health programme was announced with NiMHANS and also AIIMS and JIPMER's budget was increased.
We spoke to some of the experts in the medical fraternity to know about their expectations from the upcoming budget 2023 and mostly demanded better infrastructures of healthcare institutes, especially in small cities and rural parts of the country, and also more security for health workers and of filling the vacant posts.
Dr Rakesh Bagdi, Ex-President at FAIMA said, "There are many issues in our field, first is lack of security in the periphery, and in government hospitals. So security is one of the main concerns. We were talking about central protection law for long as violence against doctors has increased and there have been many incidents recently related to such violences. There is a scarcity of infrastructure in the rural and peripheral centres, a lack of basic amenities, and even oxygen and routine medicines are not available in the peripheries."
"The government should bridge the gap between the Centre and the peripheres because all the facilities are available in the Centre, Central cities and major cities and there is scarcity in the peripheries. So many patients coming from peripheries are coming for basic health care. If appropriate facilities are available in the peripheries then there will be less load on the Centre's hospital and in the major cities and the Centre's hospital can manage better serious cases. So, we demand this should be reflected in the upcoming budget 2023," he added.
"Also, if the government will provide better facilities and security at the peripheries, doctors will be able to practice there properly. If there is no security in the periphery why the doctors will go there, risking their lives," he asked.
"As there are no facilities at secondary and periphery centres, we get patients who can be easily treated at these centres. So, how can we focus on more serious and rare cases which need more diagnosis and treatment. The infrastructure of the primary centre must be strengthened. The gap between the primary and secondary health centres must be filled. Also, in every medical set-up, there is a lack of doctors and staff, even in a Central hospital, there are lots of vacancies, but they are not filled," said Dr Rakesh Bagdi.
"The doctor-patient ratio and staff-patient ratio are very bad in India. If we compare to the developed country, they have a much better doctor and patient ratio and staff and patient ratio. Hence, they provide better care. There are lots of vacancies in every department which need to be filled. In our PG and Super Speciality courses, lots of seats remain vacant due to the policies the government is changing every time. It can be dealt better. So, these are our demands and expectations from the upcoming budget 2023," he added.
We also spoke to Dr Sarvesh Pandey, National General Secretary at FORDA India, he said, "Our expectation is regarding the permanent vacancies on hold for a long time, that it should be announced. Also, the government is increasing the retirement age of doctors, first, it was extended to 62 years, then to 65 years, and then to 70 years. As a result, new doctors are not getting appointed. I would say that these senior doctors are drawing full salaries but due to age, they are not able to work on the ground as much needed and the young doctors work more but get less salaries in starting. Also, the government should increase the health infrastructures like ICU beds and MRIs," he said. "Work pressure is also a huge issue for doctors, especially in RML and Safdurjung hospitals. Also, we want tax slabs for residents to increase, added Dr Pandey.
Dr Datta, Junior Resident at AIIMS Delhi and FORMER General Secretary FAIMA said, "The main thing is that India should gradually increase its health budget to 5 to 6%, but we understand that it won't happen immediately. So, in this budget at least what we are expecting, considering what we have seen in the last few years that how much the public health care system of the country can be impacted, we should at least double our budget this year from 1.7% to at least 3%. It should be on the government's agenda this year and this is the expectation from the healthcare sector. It is one of the major things which was on our key agenda for the last two years, that is increasing health care expenditure. Ideally, it should be somewhere around 6% to 7%, so that we can adequately meet the health care need because India currently has an acute shortage of doctors, especially in the rural sectors and there is a big rural and urban divide, a lot of it can be tackled if we increase the number of doctors including specialist doctors and for doing that what is lacking is in the rural set up is the infrastructure and security, so when you want someone to go there, you have to at least provide security, every month we get news that some doctors have been murdered, and in rural areas people roam around with knives and guns, so many doctors who studied in the government colleges prefer paying the bond amount rather than to go and serve in the rural areas. So, infrastructure and security is something which government should consider on urgent basis.”
He also added, “Usually doctors are exposed to harmful chemicals, and infections, like when we treat HIV patients and do surgery on people with infections, so many times even after taking precautions, one can catch the infection, many of our seniors got hepatitis B during surgeries, so lots of our associations have been demanding for risk allowance since a long time, which we also expect the government to do by themselves.”