INDIA – Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister of India, has announced that the health sector has been allocated about US$10 billion (Rs 89,155 crore) in the 2023/24 union budget to support progress in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices segments.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been allocated about US$10 billion (Rs 89,155 crore) in the 2023/24 financial year, which is an increase of 12.6 percent compared to the revised budget estimate for the 2022/23 financial year.

During this year’s budget speech, Finance Minister Sitharaman said that financial allocations from the national government to the health sector will cover key initiatives to strengthen primary, secondary, and tertiary public healthcare systems.

She outlined that the healthcare financing will be used to set up 157 new nursing colleges to be located within the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014.

Sitharaman outlined that US$27M (Rs 220 crore) was allocated to procure COVID-19 vaccines that will be administered to about 13 million people across India.

In addition, she said that the Indian government has set aside adequate funds to facilitate the screening for Sickle-Cell Anaemia targeting approximately 1 million individuals under 40 years living in affected tribal areas to build on its mission to eliminate the disease by 2047.

The government also plans to establish three Centres of Excellences of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in top educational institutions to enable research collaboration among key industry players in the areas of health, agriculture, and sustainability.

A new programme for research in pharmaceuticals will be formulated and the industry will be encouraged to invest in research. Facilities in select labs under the Indian Council of Medical Research will be made available for research by public and private medical facilities,” said Sitharaman.

She confirmed that the funds will be used to support dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions to ensure the availability of skilled manpower for futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing, and research.

Leading industry players will partner in conducting inter-disciplinary research, develop cutting-edge applications and scalable problem solutions in the areas of agriculture, health, and sustainable cities,” the finance minister added.

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