Ms. Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO, Portea Medical, India’s leading consumer healthcare brand
We commend the Finance Minister on addressing various concerns of the healthcare industry and the needs of post-pandemic India. The healthcare budget has been increased to rupees 2.3 lakh crores which is a much-needed step given how the Indian healthcare infrastructure has been reeling under the pandemic impact and the expenditure on healthcare has so far been grossly inadequate. As a boost to the ongoing battle against COVID-19, the government has made a provision of INR 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccination in FY 2022 which is a laudable step. We have seen last year how the integration of private and public sector healthcare operations and collaborative model of healthcare delivery led to rapid scaling of the efforts. We are keenly looking at furthering such collaborations going forward.
Another key highlight of the announcements is the intent to shift the focus from a curative to a preventive healthcare ecosystem with strong focus on the development of the diagnostic, research, and development sector as well as on boosting the emergency healthcare system. A large number of new integrated labs, primary health centers, hospitals and other medical facilities have been announced. We hope that various digital technology-driven services such as home healthcare and telemedicine are also given adequate support and focus under the National Digital Health Mission. Overall, the provisions seem to be quite promising and we are ready to support the government in executing the plans related to healthcare transformation across India!
Ms. Shilpa Ambre, CFO, SARVA, India’s fastest growing yoga, and wellness ecosystem
As a startup in the wellness segment, there is a lot in this budget that gives me joy. To begin with, the government’s plan to focus on preventive healthcare is the need of the hour. India is a country with an incredible burden of chronic lifestyle diseases as well as other health challenges that arise out of a weak immunity in most people.
If we can develop a holistic wellness system wherein practices such as yoga are integrated to keep people naturally fit and healthy then it augurs well for all the stakeholders. SARVA has been dedicatedly moving forward in this direction and as a startup, we welcome the government’s decision to extend the tax holiday as well as the capital gain exemptions. These are crucial for receiving funding and improving the financial health of Indian startups. The simplification of processes is also going to improve the ease of doing business. Startups can now look forward to focusing more on the development of their services and reaching out to the target audience in a better way. It is a great and growth-oriented budget.
Dr. K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
The government has announced an increase of 137% in the annual budget for healthcare. The ongoing pandemic has highlighted the necessity to invest in strengthening the healthcare system in the country. Hence, this increase in allocation for healthcare is along expected lines. However, the allocation of 35,000 crores for the vaccination is lower than what was needed and implies that the government could open up the vaccines for the private sector.
The government also needs to do a lot of work on research and development (R&D) activities. It needs to boost research in the field of genomics whether it is by the private or the public sector. This will help in the early detection of new virus mutations in animals and the likelihood of cross-species transmissions, develop diagnostics and track transmission of infections. The Covid-19 virus was discovered in bats. India needs to focus on genomic studies in plants, animals, birds, and humans to stay one step ahead of any such future pandemics. India has the know-how and the capability to do so and should take a lead in this.
The government also needs to proactively research and develop vaccines for animals.
As far as primary healthcare is concerned, the government needs to experiment with low-cost technology. I have already mentioned in various videos over the last nine months how it is possible to develop cheaper and more beneficial cures for infections. The development of low-cost technologies and treatments to improve delivery of universal healthcare will be key to tackling major public health problems. A robust primary healthcare system will enable this. The hospitals of the future are also going to be less capital intensive as there will be a lower need for private rooms. The way ahead will be to go for IT-driven general wards and not 5-star hospitals. We need technology and shared facilities which are similar to the economy travel options. Thus, by smartly utilizing the increased budget, we can create superior and more far-reaching common use healthcare facilities in the country.
Vikas Bagaria, Founder, Pee Safe
As announced by the Finance Minister, the focus of the government is on improving preventive healthcare, the environment, and hygiene, and this is a great development. Hygiene has become a key need in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have seen how various aspects of personal and community hygiene and sanitation have significantly aided in the battle against the contagion.
Now, the government’s emphasis will further bolster our efforts and lead to greater innovation in the personal hygiene arena. There is a lot of fund allocation towards waste disposal and reduction of plastic consumption which is in line with efforts by companies like Pee Safe. We have been working towards reducing the usage of plastics and integration of sustainable raw materials in our products such as biodegradable sanitary pads etc. The government’s plans to simplify various operational processes will also work towards improving the ease of business and we are looking forward to contributing towards the improvement of hygiene and sanitization in our society through our innovative products.
Mr. Nilesh Aggarwal, Director & CEO, Medtalks. in, a leading healthcare Learning and Patient Education Platform
This has been one of the most anticipated budgets for the healthcare sector as we have been regrouping after the biggest medical catastrophe of our lives until now. The government has made the right noises as far as the budget allocation for the healthcare sector and taking the measures related to infrastructure and capacity development is concerned. As is the need of the hour, there is a focus on empowering the existing healthcare sector and building robust research, development, and preventive healthcare infrastructure.
It is really heartening to see an e-consultations figure in the Finance Minister’s plans, but, what we really need to see is how the integration is going to take place. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, we have seen the impact made by innovative healthcare delivery practices such as telemedicine and e-diagnostics. To prepare the existing healthcare workforce and also to meet the requirement of human resources to man the proposed healthcare facilities, it is imperative that significant attention is given to training, re-skilling, and knowledge upgrade of the healthcare professionals through digital mediums. We are looking forward to the government taking the highly successful public-private collaboration to cater to this need. While the finer details of the budget are yet to come, the announcements are definitely heartening.
Ms. Shumita Kakkar, Founder, United We Care, a unique platform for everyone
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Budget 2021 has been the most eagerly anticipated reform and the government has taken a step in the right direction by focusing on preventive and holistic wellness. We saw how the pandemic outbreak has not only impacted the financial and physical health of our public but also led to stress and mental health issues due to the sudden and drastic changes in lifestyle and a revamp of established norms. There is a need to address this issue. We hoped to see more impetus or announcements around addressing mental health issues.
Technology is going to play a major role in creating the desired support system for the people. In this regard, we anticipate the government to promote platforms like ours and adopt a collaborative approach to incentivize usage of such services by the public. Since UWC is a startup, the extension of initial tax benefits and capital gain exemption on funding will go a long way in boosting the morale of our company as well as thousands of other startups all over India.
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