Healthcare spending to go up in 12th Plan: Montek

New Delhi : Expressing concern over the quality of healthcare in India, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said Thursday the government will increase spending on the sector from 1.3 percent to 2.5 percent of GDP during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17) period.

“I am not satisfied with the quality of healthcare in both the private and the public sector,” Ahluwalia told IANS, adding “we plan to increase spending on healthcare from 1.3 percent to 2.5 percent of GDP in the 12th Plan.”

He was addressing the India Health Summit 2011 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here.

Ahluwalia agreed the government should be berated for not spending a large percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on providing better healthcare.

The government spent around Rs.4,142 crore during the four-year period 2007-08 to 2010-11.

But, he said, besides spending more money on the healthcare sector, it is equally important to have more qualified professionals.

“We need more qualified doctors and trained nurses,” said Ahluwalia, adding “the issue of setting up more medical colleges and nurses training institutes need to be addressed.”

Highlighting the need for more and better infrastructure in providing healthcare, the Planning Commission deputy chairman said surprisingly “the floor area ratio for hotels is higher in the country than for hospitals”.

“We can’t produce enough doctors and nurses even if we build a lot of clinics,” he said.

Stating the demand for healthcare in the primary sector was high, Ahluwalia said the government needs to increase spending there.

Talking about private healthcare facilities, he said those who avail it should be open to investing more on medical insurance.

Observing that many controversies surround the idea of extending public private partnership (PPP) in improving healthcare facilities in India, Ahluwalia said the NGOs, who represent the voice of the disempowered, have reservations on the issue.

“The private sector needs to frame specific guidelines on PPP issue to address these concerns,” he said, adding “the range of PPP needs to be explored.”

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