Pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister: Health experts urge govt to increase bed availability, provide subsidized vaccines

    The Hawk
    June27/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    During the pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, health experts highlighted the urgent need to increase hospital bed availability in India, which currently falls short of WHO standards.

    Dr. Girdhar Gyani, Director General of the Association of Healthcare Providers

    New Delhi: During the pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi on Thursday, health experts emphasized the need to increase the availability of hospital beds in the country. They pointed out that the current bed availability is significantly below World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
    "We have presented to the government the data that there are less than two beds per thousand population in our country, while WHO requires that there should be 3.5 beds per thousand population. Over and above, we have told them that there is a great disparity in terms of bed density," said Dr Girdhar Gyani, Director General of the Association of Healthcare Providers.
    The experts also noted that in regions like Bihar, the lack of available beds forces patients to travel long distances for treatment. "Karnataka has got 4.2 beds per 1,000 population, while Bihar has got only 0.3 beds per 1,000 population. So this makes Bihar population travel all the way for treatment," Dr. Gyani explained.
    Additionally, the experts proposed that certain adult vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine and the cervical cancer vaccine for women, should be provided at subsidized costs.
    "Certain adult vaccination is a very important point. People do not know there is adult vaccination. Like we have influenza. There is a vaccine available for cervical cancer in women, and those people don't know about it. So we want to provide some vaccines, either free or at the subsidized cost to the population," Dr. Gyani added after the meeting with the finance minister.
    The experts also highlighted that, under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, patients often need to go to private hospitals because 85 per cent of tertiary care beds are in the private sector. They suggested implementing a co-payment scheme for Ayushman Bharat patients to access treatment in private hospitals.
    "We are suggesting let there be a co-payment scheme. That means certain higher-end hospital patients can go and over and above the government reimbursement they should be allowed to pay cash from their own side so this will provide flexibility to the patient," Dr. Gyani said.