A nation needs a healthy population to prosper. The obliteration of nearly 5 lakhs in less than two years owing to pandemic has brought the healthcare sector to the forefront in terms of making healthcare for all.
The last two years have surely been an eyeopener for healthcare professionals globally, with respect to the overnight revamping of the existing healthcare system. Budget 2022-23 is expected to address to the ground realties of the healthcare and the key components that we are looking forward to such addressal are: research & innovation, digitization, public – private partnerships, tax reforms and research.
Budget 2022-23 needs to address the low per capita spend ($3) on indigenous medical devices since there is a significant dearth in indigenous manufacturing, and imports constitute over a significant percentage of the high-end medical device market. India is a fertile ground for MedTech innovation, and the industry yearns for single window clearances for startups to thrive in the ecosystem. If the government could set up a system to facilitate early validation of MedTech devices and services, it could exponentially accelerate the development and deployment of various technologies in healthcare. Tax break for 10 years for setting up facilities in upcoming economic zones, MedTech Parks & MedTech Manufacturing facilities is one of the primary needs.
Government should also look at increase in customs duty of finished medical equipment / devices and subsequent reduction in customs duty for components and SKD imports to promote ‘Make in India’. Reintroducing tax holidays for rural hospitals with a flexibility to select beneficial years and viability gap funding by the government will incentivize private healthcare infrastructure creation in Tier 3 & 4 towns. GST must be reduced significantly across all products and services, to spur consumer spending.
We expect the government to look at increasing the healthcare expenditure above 2.5 per cent of the GDP. We are expecting an announcement of 10-12 % rise in healthcare expenditure which will enable the much-needed attention that healthcare requires now.
Healthcare services must be brought under GST regime with 1% levy so that they are able to avail the input credit available. If this is done, the overall cost of healthcare services will come down benefitting a larger section of the people. Government needs to bring more life-saving drugs at the lowest rate of GST, “zero-rating” of GST for health care services, this will help achieve the twin objectives of keeping the credit chain intact and will ensure that the tax is not loaded on to the cost of healthcare services making way for more affordable healthcare.
The ongoing pandemic has necessitated immediate need for integration of technology into the healthcare sector. Merging existing technologies and systems and evolving them to match future exigencies is the need of the hour. The focus on innovation and cutting-edge digital health innovations is of supreme importance like never before. Such synergies shall build up faster service delivery, rapid scalability of diagnostics, tele consultations and telemedicine for all.
Intellectual capital must be retained & sustained. Considering the shortage of medical manpower in the country emphasis must be towards skill development to achieve the aim of WHO recommended doctor patient ratio of 1:1000 by 2024. And should that not be possible, it is vital that the country build a solid line of paramedics who can deliver the care most required, on the ground, at the right time.