In Focus
HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, India

India doubles healthcare spending for 2021

However, the overall spending is just about 1% of GDP.

India has more than doubled its healthcare spending for 2021, but the country has still a long way to go as the overall spending as a percentage of GDP is still very low compared to other countries, according to a report from GlobalData.

The government has allocated $30.7b (INR2.24t) towards health and well-being, 137% higher than the budgeted outlay of $12.9b (INR944.5b) for the FY 2020-2021. A large outlay of $4.8b (INR350b) has been allocated for COVID-19 vaccination in the current budget.

“India’s public expenditure on healthcare, as a percentage of GDP, has been just a little over 1%. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weak healthcare infrastructure in the country,” GlobalData’s pharma analyst Venkat Kartheek Vale commented.

A survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research estimated that 20% of India’s adult population had COVID-19 infection at some point until mid-December 2020.

A significant rise in the infection rate in the latest survey highlighted the gaps in the healthcare infrastructure, which lacked in tracking and testing of the suspected infectious cases in a quick and efficient manner, the report said.

“India should continue to increase investments in the public health system over a long period to create a comprehensive healthcare ecosystem to achieve self-reliance,” Vale added.

Still, GlobalData believes that the budget may be able to address some of the major challenges faced by the healthcare sector and is a step forward in improving the quality and accessibility of healthcare in India and enabling it to prepare for the future pandemics.

“In addition, a large amount of money allocated for COVID-19 vaccination clearly indicates that the government wants to vaccinate as many people as possible to help achieve herd immunity and put an end to the pandemic,” Vale said.

To bolster vaccine and disease research, the budget includes setting up regional research platform One Health, nine biosafety level III laboratories, and four regional National Institutes for Virology (NIV) in line with the NIV at Pune.

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