Union Health Ministry asks Modi for more budgetary allocation

On Thursday (3-07-2014) evening to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union ministry of health and family welfare sought a higher budgetary allocation.

Modi, it appears, commended its work on polio eradication, while wishing to know why Japanese encephalitis (JE) was spreading and what the ministry was doing on the latter, plus suggestions on what needed to be done. The ministry says 117 districts across the country are impacted by JE.

The three-hour meeting was attended by secretaries to five departments. These included were health and family welfare, the department of ayurveda, yoga & naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy (Ayush) and the department of Aids control. The secretaries to the department of health research and of the department of pharmaceuticals under the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers were also present (as were their ministers) but could not make their presentation, as the PM had to leave. Theirs' are likely in the coming week.

Officials from the department of expenditure, Planning Commission and department of science & technology were also present, another official said.

The health care sector was allocated Rs 37,330 crore in budget estimates for 2013-14, a rise  of 8.2 per cent from the budget estimates of 2012-13. The previous government had also struck down the allocation by around 15 per cent in the revised estimates for 2012-13 to Rs 29,273 crore in February last year, from the budgeted estimate of Rs 34,488 crore.

The government recently announced the inclusion of more vaccines in the Universal Immunisation Programme. And, health minister Harsh Vardhan has proposed to raise the tax on tobacco products.

The secretaries present in the meeting said the PM did not discuss anything related to the Budget. One of them said Modi seemed focused on finding ways to implement the existing strategies. "He wanted to know which are the unmet targets and why we are not able to achieve them," the secretary said.

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