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Union Budget
Noted paediatric ophthalmologist Dr Kaushik Murali comments on Union Budget 2018
Healthcare sector has been a clear priority in Union Budget 2018. There has been a good balance on short term respite from out of pocket health costs & building capacity in the long-term.

The Ayushman Bharath scheme to provide health cover to 50 crore Indians of Rs 5 lakhs is simply audacious in scale and its reach could be a game changer. Healthcare which starts from preventive care needs to be universally accessible. This should be taken care of with the proposed 1.5 lakh health & wellness centres.

The idea to increase the number of doctors is good with the 24 district hospitals being upgraded, however, strengthening of the other post graduate programmes like the DNB course would also be required to be done simultaneously. Health can become one of the key job creators. More focus from the Skill India initiative with these announcements should see this sector contribute in this area too.

We hope that other announcements like the Pradhan Mantri Research Fellowship & the Research allocation would also spur healthcare research. With Rs 1200 crore being allocated to the National Health Policy, we look forward to a continued impetus to the National Programme for Control of Blindness which is one of the most successful public-private healthcare programmes.

It would be interesting to see how these would be funded, the finance minister indicated a widening of the tax base and an additional 1 per cent cess, we only hope that the 3.5 per cent fiscal deficit does not force a rethink on these allocations later. Also it would be good to expand the ease of doing business to ease of working with insurance & schemes and simplifying the process for health care providers.

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