Health expenditure will be increased: Sitharaman

New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Union Finance Minister Nirmal Sitharaman on Sunday said that health expenditure will be increased and health reforms will be made at the grassroots level.

Speaking at her fifth consecutive press conference regarding allocation of Rs 20 lakh crore economic package in different sectors, the minister said, “To prepare India for any future pandemic, Health expenditure will be increased and investment at the grassroots level will be ramped up for health and wellness centres, with particular focus on aspirational districts. All districts will have infectious diseases block in hospitals. Public health labs will be set up at block levels.”

Talking about the steps taken by the government so far for the containment of COVID-19 in the country, the minister said that the government has committed Rs 15,000 crore for the health related measures so far for the containment of COVID-19, which includes Rs 50 lakh insurance per person for the health professionals.

“More than Rs 4,113 crores have been released to states,” said Sitharaman.

The Finance Minister said that the steps taken so far by the government included releasing 4,113 crore rupees to the states, essential items worth rupees 3,750 crore, Rs 550 crores have been spent on testing labs and kits and Insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per person for health professionals under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).

She also said that the government is encouraging research in the health sector through ‘National Institutional platform for One health' by the ICMR and through implementation of the National digital Health Mission blueprint.

MoS Anurag Thakur who was also present at the press conference said that the IT has been extensively used in order to enhance health facilities, like roll out of E-Sanjeevani tele-consultation services, capacity building through virtual learning module -iGot platform. “Arogya Setu app, like UPI, was downloaded by a large number of people,” he said.

Thakur also said, “we amended the epidemic disease act in order to stop atrocities against the health care workers,” adding, “There are more than 300 domestic manufacturers of the PPE kits and N95 masks from zero. We have already supplied PPEs 51 lakh PPEs, 87 lakh N95 masks and Hydroxychloroquine tablets worth Rs 11.08 corers.”



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