NK Singh Urges Increasing Spending On Health Sector To 2.5% Of GDP By 2024
A patient walks through a general ward of the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals facility, operated by Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd., in New Delhi. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

NK Singh Urges Increasing Spending On Health Sector To 2.5% Of GDP By 2024

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NK Singh, Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission, on Wednesday suggested increasing public spending on the health sector to 2.5% of the GDP in four years from 0.95% at present.

Flagging skewed nature of health infrastructure, Singh said it is "unfortunate" that the poorest part of the country has worst infrastructure.

"So, how does one address the skewed nature of availability of health infrastructure among different states in India, particularly those which are most vulnerable?," Singh remarked while speaking at the Asia Health 2020 event organised by industry body CII.

He also said that both centre and states need to improve their public outlay on health significantly.

Also read: Covid-19 Vaccines: The India Challenge

"There is no doubt that public sector spending by both centre and states need to go up very significantly. Our endeavour must be to raise public spending from 0.95% of GDP to 2.5% of GDP by 2024. This would comprise spending by both centre and states," Singh said.

According to him, regulatory changes such as how to broaden the MBBS course could also be looked at.

"I think that the private sector participation can be at other levels of specialty and at also levels on which they are better placed given their innovative skill," he said.

Singh noted that the Finance Commission's recommendations will turn out to be a "shiny example" of Public Private Partnership.

The 15th Finance Commission submitted its report pertaining to the period -- 2021-22 to 2025-26 -- to President Ram Nath Kovind on Nov. 9. The report will be made public after it is tabled in Parliament.

Singh said frontline health workers who continue to play a crucial role during the Covid-19 pandemic deserve much greater recognition.

Also read: Covid Vaccine: Snowman Logistics CEO Warns On Two Key Distribution Hurdles

"We need to focus on the fact that the Civil Services Act of 1951... had said that India will constitute an All India Medical Service... it's quite amazing from 1951 till today, this all India health services has not been constituted based on examples and best international practices," he said, adding there are multiple issues and challenges surrounding the health sector.

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