“The Union Government is committed to increasing the public healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP from the existing 1.15 per cent to 2.5 per cent by 2025,” he said in the third episode of a weekly interaction he has been holding with his social media followers every Sunday for the last three weeks.
Harsh Vardhan noted that the committed leap in the share means an actual rise of 345 per cent from the current expenditure. He also added the 15th Finance Commission’s high-level group on health has concurred that healthcare spending must be raised substantially in the next five years in view of the present pandemic.
Similar commitments have been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Health Minister JP Nadda in recent years as well. In 2017, Nadda, now the BJP President, had said the Central government would increase the total health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by 2025. Similarly, Modi, while addressing the Partners’ Forum in 2018, had said the government is set to raise its spending on public health to 2.5 per cent of the GDP.
However, the share of expenditure for public health has remained stagnant at 1.15 per cent of the GDP, despite the multiple assurances, and the Modi government has faced flak for reduced and consistently low spending on healthcare for years now. Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan also said the Centre had added 29,185 MBBS seats in the last five years while answering a question on the disparity of setting up AIIMS in different regions while approving merely one for the entire northeast region.
He informed that the Centre would establish new medical colleges attached with existing district and referral hospitals in Dhubri, Nagaon, North Lakhimpur, Diphu, and Kokrajhar districts in Assam, Churachandrapur in Manipur, West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya, Falkawan district in Mizoram, and Kohima and Mon in Nagaland.