Increase health budget to 10% of GDP

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Dear Finance minister,

I am an ENT surgeon and have spent decades working in various private hospitals and run a chain of private clinics for the past 11 years. In my 18 years of practice I found that while some patients are covered by comprehensive health insurance and can be treated in corporate hospitals, many patients need to pay out of pocket to cover their health costs. There is also a large proportion of patients who are simply unable to pay for inpatient care and do not have access to quality health care in the public hospitals. They may own mobile phones , bicycles, even a refrigerator and television set, which disqualifies them from the Ayushmann Bharat coverage, but they are unable to cover the cost of health care and need to take loans at high interest rates pushing them further into poverty.

The present COVID pandemic has brought health to the forefront of every discussion. Now more than ever we need to evaluate the state of public health care in India. With more than 80,000 cases per day, the numbers of positive patients keep rising. We have practically become numb to the deaths coming in every day for the past 5 months, the numbers have become statistics instead of the horror story they truly are.

Let us use this opportunity to increase the amount of money spent on healthcare in the upcoming budget. Sign my petition. India has one of the least health spends in the world - a dismal 1.3%. Advanced nations spend almost 14-18% of their GDP on health, and even poor countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka spend more on the health of their citizens than India does.

In 2020-21 budget the government had set aside 69,000 crores for healthcare, that's about 511 ₹ per head per annum for the 135 crore of us. Less than 8 USD. Please allow that number to sink in.

Many states have very poor public health care facilities. We need to decentralise health care and ensure that super-specialists are able to work in every nook and cranny of India, not just in a few cities. The number of post-graduate seats in government medical colleges need to increase every year. There have to be better nursing education, paramedics and primary health care provider training to cater to every gali and mohalla. ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers need to be paid atleast minimum wages for the efforts they put in instead of the peanuts they are paid at present. We need ambulance services in every city and make the joke redundant that in India pizza is delivered faster than an ambulance can reach a dying patient. We need functioning ICUs,NICU, ventilators and Operation theatres in every town hospital. For how long are we going to keep referring even simple surgical cases to the capital cities?

Every life matters and we must invest in healthcare to create a robust system of primary clinics, polyclinics and tertiary care hospitals. We ask the government to increase expenditure on healthcare to 10% of the GDP in the upcoming budget and create functional centres of excellence in every district of the country.

This year has taught us that nothing is more important than health, let us convert this into lasting action and provide better healthcare for the coming generations.

#TenForHealth

Warm regards,

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon Gurgaon