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Union Budget 2018-19: India Gets the World's Largest Govt-funded Healthcare Programme Under this programme, Healthcare Protection will now become a reality for 10 cr poor and vulnerable families in India

By Komal Nathani

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The Government of India in its 2018 Budget gave one of the most unexpected gifts to the people of India. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a few path-breaking healthcare initiatives and gave healthcare a significant push by giving major allocations to the sector. FM Jaitley announced one of the world's largest health protection programmes for the country, which will provide INR 5 lakh insurance cover per family per year for secondary & tertiary needs under the National Health Protection Scheme. This will benefit around 50 cr people in India.

Jaitley announced the two major schemes for health under Ayushman Bharat Program in the Union Budget 2018.

Here are the top highlights in the healthcare sector:

Insurance Programme for Around 500 million Poor

The Government has decided to provide healthcare protection by providing INR 5 lakh per family per year for medical reimbursement under the National Health Protection Scheme. This scheme will cover 10 cr poor and vulnerable families, benefitting approximately 50 cr people in India.

"This is the world's largest government funded healthcare programme and would lead to a clear increase in demand for quality healthcare facilities and services and to match this rise in demand, several measures have also been announced to improve supply of quality health services in the country," said Rashesh Shah, President, FICCI.

Creation of Health and Wellness Centres

Allocating a corpus of INR 1200 crore, Jaitley announced comprehensive healthcare schemes for maternal and childcare services. Creation of more health and wellness centres will be high on government's agenda, which will bring healthcare services closer to home for the people in rural areas. These 1.5 lakh centres will provide free essential drugs and diagnostics services to patients under .

The CEO of Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd, Naresh Jain said, "It aims to create the largest healthcare blanket for the biggest democracy of the world. The initiative will allow the poor to access world class healthcare facilities which were not affordable or available earlier."

Nutritional Support to TB Patients

Additional allocation of INR 6000 crore has been made to provide nutritional support to tuberculosis patients in India at INR 500 per month for the duration of their treatment. According to the data compiled by World Health Organization, India is losing an average of 1,150 lives every day to Tuberculosis.

Setting up of 24 New Government Medical Colleges

In order to further enhance accessibility of quality medical education and health care, the government will set up 24 new Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country. This would ensure that there is at least one medical college for every three Parliamentary Constituencies, and at least one Government Medical College in each State of the country. Ameera Shah, Promoter and Managing Director, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. said, "This is a pro-people and pro-poor budget. For the first time, Universal Health Care has got the impetus it deserved. The Government's plan to introduce 24 new medical colleges is one way to address the glaring lack of talent in the industry. Going forward, the government also has plans for utilization management, financial monitoring, audit mechanisms and accountability."

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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