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Budgetary Coverage Needed for Expanded Healthcare Facilities in Rural India

India has achieved remarkable progress in healthcare, boasting world-class facilities and highly skilled para-clinical staff. The utilization of cutting-edge robotic surgeries enhances clinical outcomes. This success is attributed to the proficiency of medical institutions that have produced exceptional doctors. The government's role is evident in providing essential infrastructure, medical institutions, and impactful initiatives like Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, contributing to reduced out-of-pocket expenses for Indian patients.

There is a pressing need to invest more in the rural healthcare sector in India. Currently, only 38% of doctors serve in rural areas, catering to nearly 68% of the population. This results in rural residents either traveling to cities for treatment or relying on unqualified practitioners. About 80% of rural health centers lack essential medical professionals.

The budget can bridge this gap by encouraging private institutions to establish facilities in rural areas through increased tax incentives and enhanced financial support from initiatives like the National Digital Health Mission. A tax holiday for private players investing in rural healthcare facilities would be instrumental in addressing this divide.

A substantial increase in healthcare budget allocation is crucial, especially considering the current INR 86,000 Cr. allocation. With only around INR 600-700 per citizen annually, more direct or indirect tax collections are needed. The budget should prioritize subsidies for rural healthcare, offering benefits like reduced GST on medical equipment for rural facilities. These incentives, such as cheaper land or electricity, can attract skilled healthcare professionals to rural areas, addressing both equipment and workforce needs.

Despite having over 1.55 lakh rural health centers, there's a lack of infrastructure for early disease detection. A significant solution lies in a widespread public-private partnership, where the private sector operates these centers with robust governance. This approach enables scaled preventive healthcare. Strengthening the digital infrastructure, such as the India Health Stack, with increased budgetary incentives for broader adoption, would establish a comprehensive digital health ecosystem.

Expanding telemedicine to include remote consultations and monitoring, with added incentives for platforms and concepts like Software as a Medical Device (SAMD), is crucial for ensuring quality healthcare in rural areas. The budget should focus on providing tax and financial incentives to encourage more investments in rural healthcare, supported by technology and healthcare professionals' expertise.



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