Published: 01st February 2021
TN-based Doctors Association for Social Equality calls budget allocation to health sector ‘disappointing’
The current allocation of Rs 2.23 lakh crore to the health sector is insufficient. Most of the funds will end up benefitting only private hospitals, DASE said
Tamil Nadu-based Doctors Association for Social Equality has called the budget allocation to the health sector ‘disappointing’ The Association said that low funding is causing government hospitals to weaken in their fight against COVID-19 and suspect that the Rs 35,000 crore funding that was promised by the Finance Minister towards COVID-19 vaccines could end up landing in the pockets of private companies.
“The current allocation of Rs 2.23 lakh crore to the health sector is insufficient. Government hospitals need to be upgraded, instead most of the funds will end up benefitting private hospitals,” DASA President Dr GR Ravindranath said. He also argued that while the budget allocated an amount for vaccines, it didn’t assure the public that everyone who needs to receive the vaccine would get it, “Very soon at least 70 per cent of the population would need to be vaccinated. There was no mention about this in the budget, about how they will ensure it happens and how they will be able to afford it. Only if 70 per cent is vaccinated then will we be able to prevent this virus from taking more lives.”
“Already, the Centre has announced that only 22 per cent of the population (30 crore) will be vaccinated. The Centre hasn’t said how it would manage when this number increases. At the same time, the Centre is offering to donate the vaccines to countries abroad and taxing Indians for it. This is a cheap political stunt. When there aren’t enough vaccines for our people, what is the need to pour them into other countries at our expense,” DASE questioned.
“What percentage of the population will be vaccinated with the 35,000 crore rupees? There was no mention about whether the vaccine will be provided for free. It isn’t right that the government is charging extra when the same vaccines are being priced at a lesser rate abroad. In the UK, the vaccine is being sold for Rs 159 and here, the two vaccines are priced at Rs 200 and Rs 295. The Centre’s monopoly in the purchase of the vaccine will only lead to corruption. The states are not being allowed to buy the vaccines directly and this is against our rights,” the doctor and activist argued. He sought for the Centre to focus on strengthening the public health sector and for the vaccines to also be produced by public sector undertakings.
“People’s well being must be the primary focus. But this budget seems like it was created to feed the greedy private corporations,” he added.