Before the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Union Budget in the Parliament on February 1, 2021.
Here’s what the healthcare sector expects from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman:
Shreyas Kumar, Director & CFO, ZEISS India:
“Over the years the ‘doing business in India’ concept has been getting better with many schemes being introduced that are industry friendly. However, in February 2020, a new legislation was introduced for regulation of Medical Devices which has included Spectacle Lenses and has added complexities including necessitation for ISO13485 Certification as mandatory. We are of the opinion that introducing this certification as a pre-requisite for a simple product such as Spectacle Lenses is exaggerated.
Instead we find adherence to a Quality Management System such as ISO9001 is definitely a necessity to ensure stable and standardised processes are followed for production of these lenses. So in the upcoming budget announcement, we request the Government to consider the industry sentiment and drop the mandatory ISO13485 certification requirement. Instead, the Government can consider added production linked incentives for the spectacle lens industry setting up business in Karnataka.”
Sanjay Joshi, Regional Managing Principal & Head – Asia, ZS Associates:
“India’s public healthcare spending today remains below the government’s target of 2.5% of GDP. The pandemic further exposed the gaps in our healthcare infrastructure. I hope that the upcoming budget will accelerate the move towards the target and increase the allocation to healthcare expenditure to strengthen the public health infrastructure and improve the accessibility and affordability of healthcare for the masses.”
Dr. Shuchin Bajaj, Founder & Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals:
“As India faces the worst ever health crisis of all times, we hope that COVID-19 will atleast provide the silver lining in increasing the healthcare budget. There has never been a greater spotlight on healthcare delivery in various environments. No election has unfortunately been fought on healthcare as an issue in India yet. But now with the coronavirus pandemic, the focus is only and squarely on healthcare. I hope that this will lead to an increase in the healthcare budget and various healthcare provisions so that the expenditure spend on health should go up to 3 percent of the GDP as promised by the government.”
Dr. Tushar Grover, Medical Director, Vision Eye Centre:
“The onslaught of Covid-19 has duly woken up the health authorities to the urgent need to raise allocation for health as a proportion of GDP. Keeping that in mind, the upcoming budget should prompt higher allocation to R&D in biotech, epidemiology as well as pharma in general. Only with increased budgetary attention can we truly harness our existing strength in vaccines and generics. With technology leading to a rise in healthcare costs, higher public health expenditure can make it affordable for common people and reduce out-of-pocket costs. At the same time, the government must relax unrealistic price restrictions and rules in order to encourage investment into developing a world-class healthcare infrastructure in the country.”
Kamal Narayan Omer, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has offered us an opportunity to prevent any such outbreak in future and the budgetary allocation for health must reflect that we are serious about the steps needed to reach that level of preparedness. It is time we de-silo healthcare as a service provided and look at the various other aspects that impact the need of health services or can impact its efficiency.
Apart from increasing the overall share of public spending in healthcare, the health budget this year must focus on its integrated nature and adequate budgetary allocations must be made for: 1) primary healthcare, especially in rural and remote areas, ensuring trained manpower and diagnostic services, in addition to affordable and accessible secondary and tertiary care 2) preventive healthcare to control rapid spread of non-communicable diseases and lack of adequate nutrition for the young and vulnerable population, and 3) associated areas such as pollution control measures for air, water, and soil, and strengthening of supply chain, especially for perishable food items. At the same time, a separate allocation must be made for health communication for behavioural change that will nudge people to adopt healthy and sustainable consumption and behaviour in the medium-to-long run.’
Danish Ahmed, CEO, Hospals:
The Travel and Tourism sector has been badly hit in Covid, and Medical travel is the surest way to take this worst hit sector on the recovery path. Millions of people in Asia and Africa consider India as the healthcare center of the world. Thousands of patients have applied for visas, despite covid, and are waiting for flight volumes to increase .These patients contribute to revenues of hospitals, hotels, pharmacies, restaurants, airlines, taxis and indirectly provide employment to over 2 lac people.
We hope the budget will allocate significant funds to promote medical tourism to India for allopathic and AYUSH related treatments. Governments in Turkey, UAE, Korea and Malaysia are spending millions to develop their medical tourism sector and give tough competition to India. We hope the India government will ear mark a fund of 1000 crores for investment and promotion of medical travel companies and medical value travel startups across India, enabling them to go out and attract foreign patients to India.
Make in India should not only be a movement but a real mark of authenticity backed by policy initiative in the form of tax rebates. For example, only brands that have a substantial portion of their supply chain based in the country should be able to use the “Make in India” logo and they should also get some GST rebate. An independent institute could be set up to audit and validate ‘made-in-India’ claims.
A faster-licensing process for beauty tech companies:
As a customized Ayurveda brand that believes in driving product-level innovation through rigorous customer feedback, we would benefit from a licensing process that is transparent, is done online, and where new formulations are approved within an established time frame. This will help the industry launch and iterate products faster and further elevate Indian Ayurveda at an international level.
Ram N Kumar, Founder, NirogStreet:
After the Narendra Modi government assumed office, the task of reviving India’s Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom got a new lease of life. The Central government has undertaken several initiatives to safeguard and generate mass awareness on the global stage around India’s traditional medicinal systems. In the past few years the government has actively promoted Ayurveda and supported the growth of pioneering research and medical facilities in the country.
As the Modi government gears up for the Union Budget 2021, there is a dire need to focus on creating a robust ayurevda ecosystem, make Ayurveda Atmanirbhar and mainstream it for future generations to accept it as the first call of prevention and treatment. This is the right time for the Union budget to allocate funds to create a robust ecosystem supporting world class research, product development and drug discovery in the Ayurvedic sector. A significant price drop in Ayurvedic and immunity boosting medicines can promote the consumption of natural and ayurvedic products. This is only possible if Goods and Services Tax (GST) should be waived off for ayurvedic medicines and products.
We expect the upcoming Union Budget to focus on creating a unique ecosystem for tech enabled startups who are reinventing and reimagining the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to make it more acceptable and palatable for millennials. India is the knowledge and talent hub for Ayurveda. There are over 4, 00,000 Ayurveda practitioners in India and over 350 Ayurveda medical colleges producing over 20, 000 medical graduates every year. The education budget must specifically address the gaps and the need to nurture more and more Ayurveda practitioners and scholars backed by modern research, drug discovery and evidence based medicine knowledge.”