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Healthcare spending to be upped to 2.5% of GDP: Azad

Jaipur: India will increase spending on healthcare to 2.5 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) during the 12th Five Year Plan that starts on April 1, 2012, from the present level of around 1 per cent, the union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Saturday.

“In the 12th Five Year Plan, our commitment is to increase expenditure on healthcare to 2.5 per cent of our gross domestic product from the present level of 1 per cent,” Azad said at the annual diaspora meet Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.

He said the public-private-partnership model would be given priority to upgrade and expand healthcare facilities.

“Public-private-partnership arrangements are now common in many areas and we intend to fully explore and expand the scope in the 12th Five Year Plan,” he said.

Development of healthcare facilities is one of the focus areas of the 12th Five Year Plan that runs from fiscal 2012-13 to 2016-17. India targets to invest over $1 trillion in infrastructure development during the next five years.

Azad said the government was liberalising norms to attract overseas investments in healthcare and infrastructure.

“The government has encouraged foreign direct investment (FDI) in opening of hospitals by placing such investments on the automatic route,” he said.

The minister said the government aims to provide “complete basic infrastructure” in rural areas by the end of the next five year plan period.

The proposed infrastructure development in rural areas includes upgrade of the existing primary health centres and community health centres to Indian public health standards’ norms.

The government also targets to strengthen diagnostic services at block and district levels and provide ancillary services at the district level like drug storage, warehousing, medical waste management, surveillance and cold chain.

Addressing the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet, Azad urged the Indian diaspora to help in development of healthcare facilities in the country, especially in providing training, knowhow and advanced technologies.

“I call upon you to be a partner in building such institutions all over the country, especially in the areas where the shortage of such professionals is most acute,” he said.

“We are moving towards universal healthcare for the nation and ensuring that no individual fails to secure adequate medical care because of inability to pay for it. This goal now appears to be quite within our reach,” he said.

Almost 1,500 non-resident Indians and people of Indian origin have gathered in Jaipur to explore business opportunities here and discuss the issues related to overseas Indians. [Source: IANS]

by Gyanendra Kumar Keshri

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