Finance Commission Chairman N K Singh on Friday made a strong case for setting up a health developmental financial institution on the lines of the Rs 20,000-crore DFI for the infrastructure sector to improve healthcare services in Tier-II and III cities.
Singh also underlined the need for a uniform Health Care Code (HCC) and an All India Medical and Health Service with the overarching objective of improving healthcare facilities throughout the length and breadth of the country.
“The health sector is in dire need of a health developmental financial institution (DFI). Budget 2021-22 mentioned setting up a DFI to stimulate investments with an initial corpus of Rs 20,000 crore.
“The need for a health-sector-specific DFI is much needed on the same lines as that of DFIs for other sectors like NABARD (agriculture), NHB (Housing) and TFCI (tourism),” he said at NATHEALTH Annual Summit.
Such an initiative, Singh added, would help in increasing healthcare access in Tier-II and III cities, besides ensuring proper utilisation of the funds.
He emphasised the need for the universalisation of the healthcare insurance system.
While the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) covers the bottom two income quintiles, commercial insurance largely covers the top-income quintile, thereby creating a ‘missing middle’ class in between, he said.
“This refers to people in the middle two income quintiles, where the population is not rich enough to afford commercial insurance and not poor enough to be covered under government-sponsored health insurance schemes,” he said.
Universalisation of healthcare insurance and the development of financial institutions as part of that, is the ultimate goal that has no exclusion in terms of disease or category of persons, he added.
Talking about measures taken by the Government of India on the health sector, he said the highest priority on the health sector was demonstrated in a somewhat unprecedented manner in the Budget 2021-22.
“More importantly, it recognised the interlinkages of health with nutrition, water and sanitation facilities that reinforce each other.
“Allocation for health and wellness sector increased mainly on account of the increased allocation on water and sanitation which increased from Rs 21,500 crore to Rs 60,000 crore and Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccination,” he said.
The launch of the PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PM-ANSBY) is a giant leap to strengthen the healthcare system in the country, he said.
It has an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore over six years, which aims to develop capacities at various level of the health system and create new institutions and strengthen existing ones.
Besides, he said the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) launched in 2020 will improve access and reach and enhance the doctor-patient consultation experience.