New Delhi: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare expressed his deep gratitude and profusely thanked Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman for moving health and well being to the centre stage of India’s governance as the country battles COVID and is also targeting to eliminate diseases like TB and immunize India’s children against twelve communicable diseases.
The Minister said, “Investment on Health Infrastructure in Budget 2021 has increased 2.37 times or 137%. The focus on strengthening three areas – Preventive health, curative health and well-being with Total Allocation to Health Sector being Rs 2,23,846 Crore will be of immense help to the country at this critical juncture.” He stated that the Government has once again under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji fulfilled the commitment of not only providing relief in the times of COVID-19 but has also turned the crisis into an opportunity for further growth and development.
He also expressed his elation at the renewed focus on Jal Jeevan Mission, the second phase of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Urban) and the Clean Air Initiative which target the holistic health of India’s citizens as these schemes are designed to reduce the disease burden of communicable diseases by curbing their transmission and prevent those caused by pollution
Dr. Harsh Vardhan lauded the Pradhan MantriAatma Nirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana. With an outlay of ₹ 64,180 crore over 6 years, the scheme will develop capacities of primary, secondary and tertiary care, health care systems, develop institutions for detection & cure of new and emerging diseases and strengthen the existing National Health Mission independent of it, he stated. “The scheme will strengthen 17000 rural and 11000 urban health and wellness centres, set up integrated public health labs in all districts and 3,382 block public health units in 11 States, establish critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts and 12 central institutions”, the Union health Minister added.
Remisncing the huge role played by NCDC and other Public Health Institutions in containing the COVID pandemic, he continued, “The National Centre for Disease Control will now have 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units. The experiences of the country’s yearlong fight with COVID have shaped the Union Budget. This will give a tremendous boost to India’s health infrastructure”. He thereafter detailed the huge increase in scope of Public Health which includes the expansion of integrated health information portal to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs, operationalization of 17 new public health units and strengthening of 33 existing public health units at points of entry that is 32 airports, 11 seaports and 7 land crossings, setting up of 15 health emergency operation centers and two mobile hospitals, the setting up of a National Institution for One Health regional research platform for WHO South East Asia region office and 9 Bio-safety Level III laboratories and 4 Regional institutes on the lines of National Institute of Virology.
Speaking on COVID and other communicable diseases and their prevention through vaccination, he noted, “The COVID-19 vaccination drive was inaugurated by Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji on 16th January and is presently being given to Health Care Workers and the Frontline Workers; others along the priority pyramid will be given the vaccine in coming times. The Union Finance Minister has allocated Rs. 35,000 Cr for it and also stated that she will provide more fund if required, which will be a huge boost to the morale of the country. The Pneumococcal vaccine, similarly, a ‘Made in India’ product which is presently limited to 5 states at present will also be rolled out across the country. This will avert more than 50,000 child deaths annually.”
Speaking on the holistic nature of health, Dr. Harsh Vardhan also threw light on the Mission Poshan 2.0 which will strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcomes. This will merge supplementary nutritional programmes and Poshan Abhiyan and is proposed to adopt and intensify strategy to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts.
The Union Health Minister highlighted importance of Clean Air in reducing respiratory diseases, He said, “To tackle the burgeoning problem of air pollution, a budget of Rs 2,217 crore has been provided for improvement of 42 urban centres with a million-plus population in this budget.” He further said, “For further Swachhata of urban India, the Budget has focused on complete faecal sludge management and waste water treatment, source segregation of garbage, reduction in single-use plastic, reduction in air pollution by effectively managing waste from construction-and-demolition activities and bio-remediation of all legacy dump sites. The Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 will be implemented with a total financial allocation of Rs 1,41,678 crore over a period of 5 years from 2021-2026.”
Pointing out that WHO has repeatedly stressed on the importance of clean water, sanitation and clean environment as a pre requisite to achieve universal health, the Minister said, “The Union Budget has announced launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban). It aims at universal water supply in all 4,378 Urban Local Bodies with 2.86 crore household tap connections, as well as liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT cities. It will be implemented over 5 years, with an outlay of Rs 2,87,000 crore.”