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Union Budget 2024: 5 Key Announcements Made by Nirmala Sitharaman for the Healthcare Sector

Written by : Arti Ghargi

February 1, 2024

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In line with the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement earlier, the government refrained from announcing any major changes or populist scheme in the interim budget.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today unveiled the interim budget for the year 2024. This was her sixth budget and the last for the second term of the Narendra Modi government before the rollout of nationwide polls.

Launch of newly designed U-WIN platform and extension of Ayushman Bharat Yojana to ASHA, Anganwadi workers as well as helpers across the country were among the prominent announcements made in the budget speech.

In line with the FM’s earlier statement, the government refrained from announcing any major changes or populist scheme in the interim budget. Likewise, there was no announcement made to encourage the HealthIT sector of India. However, a full-fledged budget will be presented in July once the new government is elected.

FM proposed that there will be no change in the tax rate in the budget for direct and indirect taxes including export duties.

Let us take a look at some of the key announcements made for the healthcare sector in the Interim Budget 2024, here:

1. Setting Up of More Medical Colleges

Sitharaman announced that the government plans to focus on infrastructure development for medical facilities. As per the budget announcement, the government will focus on building more medical colleges by utilising existing hospital infrastructure under various departments. A separate committee will be set up to examine the matter and make relevant recommendations in this regard.

2. Cervical Cancer Vaccination

While last year in the budget the government focused on eradication of sickle cell anemia by 2047, this year the government aims for higher vaccination for cervical cancer. FM Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government will encourage Cervical Cancer vaccination among adolescent girls between the age of 9 years to 14 years.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in India, with an estimated 1, 23,907 new cases and 77, 348 deaths annually (Globocan2020) which is close to one-fifth of the global burden of this cancer.

3. Maternal and Child Healthcare

All the schemes pertaining to Maternal and Child healthcare will be brought under one comprehensive program. The government is also planning upgradation of Anganwadi under Saksham Anganwadi whereas Poshan 2.0 will also be expedited.

4. U-WIN Platform

The finance minister also announced that the newly designed U-WIN platform for managing immunisation and intensified mission Indradhanush will be rolled out soon.

Last year the government conducted a pilot study of the platform. Made on the lines of CoWIN- a platform designed to track and streamline vaccination during Covid-19 pandemic, U-WIN facilitates setting up of electronic registry for routine vaccinations. The platform is used to register and vaccinate every pregnant woman, record data after birth and vaccinations thereafter.

5. Ayushman Bharat Yojana

Heeding the longstanding demand of primary healthcare workers of providing medical security, the govt has widened the scope of Ayushman Bharat Yojana to include ASHA and Anganwadi workers as well as helpers in it.

While there was no budget allocation in this regard. Interestingly, in the last Budget, FM Sitharaman had earmarked INR 7,200 Cr for FY24.

Apart from this, the finance minister highlighted that the Foreign Direct Investment in India has increased multifold in the last 10 years. “FDI was $596 Bn between 2014-2023, twice the inflow between 2005-2014. The government is also making bilateral treaties with foreign partners on the principle of FDI- First Develop India,” FM Sitharaman said.

Additionally, a corpus of Rs 1 Lakh Cr will be established with 50 yr interest-free loan for tech-savvy growth. The corpus will provide long-term financing with long tenors and with minimum to zero interest rates. The aim is to encourage private sectors to scale up Research and innovation significantly in sunrise domains.


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