Noting that India’s spend on healthcare is much lower than some fellow BRICS and SAARC nations, a health body has asked the Centre to bolster investments in health, particularly in family planning, in the upcoming budget.

Insisting that increasing the budget allocation for health and family planning is of “utmost concern”, Population Foundation of India (PFI) has said low spending by the country in the sector has caused growing inequities, insufficient access and poor quality of care services.

Trends in budget allocations indicate that percentage share to family planning has remained unchanged between 2013-14 and 2016-17 — at 2 per cent of the total Health Ministry’s budget.

Noting that during 2015-16, 59 per cent of government fund was released primarily in the last quarter while 72 per cent was released in the first two quarters in 2014-15, PFI said this evidences staggered supply of funds for health resources and affects investments.

“Investing in health is critical for achieving the economic development goals. The health sector, which drives domestic demand for health care, has the potential of providing new jobs. The lack of skilled workforce is stark in the health sector. Increased investment will also bring down the prices of health services and assist in sustaining the medium term inflation target of four per cent.

“Adequate and proportionate resources invested (in health and specifically family planning) in the upcoming budget announcement will bear positive dividends for the country’s future,” Muttreja said.
According to Census 2011, 53 per cent of the country’s population is reproductive age group (15- 49 years) while one of five persons in the country is an adolescent (10-19 years) and every third is a young person (15-24 years).
PFI said that at the London Summit 2012, India committed to provide family planning services to an additional 48 million new users by 2020.
To fulfill our FP-2020 commitments and meet the responsibility towards the large young population, investments in health and family planning need to be proportionately increased.

“According to the FP-2020 progress report 2015-16, India has only reached 7.7 million additional users, by July 2016. Three million additional users have been reached last year, in contrast to 1.5 million additional users reached, each for the first three years.

“The accelerated efforts of the government towards universal access to family planning are also evident in its introduction of three new spacing methods of contraception in the family planning programme… in 2015, offering greater choice and autonomy to the users of family planning,” she said.

This news was originally published in The Economic Times

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